Planet Youth — 'The Icelandic Model': application of environmental prevention principles based on a systematic local assessment of risk and protective factors

At a glance

Country of origin

  • No country of origin defined

Last reviewed:

Age group
11-14 years
15-18/19 years
Target group
All youth
Programme setting(s)
Environmental setting

Level(s) of intervention

  • Environmental prevention

The Iceland model is an environmental approach in which parenting, parental supervision and organised leisure time activities, together with increased normative pressure (curfew hours and encouragement of joint family dinners) play a central role in reducing alcohol and drug consumption among young people. The core element is an analysis of risk and protective factors in each community and the building of a coalition of stakeholders. According to this analysis, the Planet Youth model – as applied in Iceland – implements evidence-based environmental principles with those coalitions. This, with the support of particularly strong alcohol policy, might have contributed to the reduction of substance use in Iceland.


No data

Links to this programme in other registries

Implementation Experiences

Read the experiences of people who have implemented this programme.

Contact details

Dr. Alfgeir L. Kristjansson; Dr. Inga Dora Sigfusdottir; Jon Sigfusson

Planet Youth | ICSRA


Overview of results from the European studies

Evidence rating

  • Additional studies recommended
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Studies overview

While this intervention appears to be promising because of population-level outcomes concerning substance use among youth in Iceland, the authors report that it remains unclear whether and how the intervention and its components impacted substance use in Iceland (Kristjansson et al. 2010 and 2016). The programme aims at reducing individual risk factors and promoting individual protective factors but it remains unclear whether and how these outcomes are related to the intervention (components). The core characteristics of the interventions (e.g. dosage, logic model etc.), besides their community aspects, are not described in the available studies. Subsequently, it is unclear which interventions or actions were offered and implemented. Furthermore, there is no systematic monitoring and subsequent analysis available on the changes in the community context (besides substance use). For instance, no direct linear link was documented between participation in sport activities and the decrease in the substance use prevalence among youth. The Kristjansson et al. 2010 study has a quasi-experimental design, where the effects however are small. Other issues: 1) It is unclear how the control group was impacted by the overall Icelandic alcohol policy, in the currently available studies, 2) The fact that 5 communities were excluded in the intervention group could imply fidelity and dosage issues that are not accounted for, and considerable dropout. Included were only communities that participated fully and many years in the intervention, 3) There is no analysis of baseline differences such as socio-economic status, 4) The measured outcomes do not relate to the intervention components or to the logic model, 5) The analysis, as pointed out by the authors themselves, does not ascertain a causal relation between the intervention and the outcome. The 2016 study (Kristjansson et al. 2016) - a repeated, cross-sectional population-based school survey study, which can be considered an ITS – is, as mentioned by the authors, faced with similar issues, such as the inability to dismiss secular trends in adolescent substance use and the coexistence of the intervention with other, unmonitored interventions.

What to improve: Future studies should provide in depth description of the components and delivery modes, and perform better monitoring of dosage and fidelity. Also the changes in the targeted behaviours (other than substance use) could be assessed to understand the active ingredients in the logical model. Additionally, baseline equivalence and attrition should be clearly included in the evaluation method to account for differential impact. These methods would help other countries to effectively reproduce the effects, test the logical model and adapt the design to new contexts.

Click here to see the reference list of studies

Countries where evaluated

  • Iceland


Protective factor(s) addressed

  • Community: Laws and norms unfavourable to substance use and antisocial behaviour
  • Community: opportunities and rewards for prosocial involvement in the community (including religiosity)
  • Environmental economic: Opportunities for supervised/organised  leisure time
  • Environmental: Curfew outside hours for minors
  • Environmental: Enforcement strategy in on-site alcohol-selling premise
  • Environmental: RBS (Responsible Beverage Service) available
  • Community: other
  • Family: attachment to and support from parents
  • Family: Limited or no Availability of alcohol at home
  • Family: opportunities/rewards for prosocial involvement with parents
  • Family: Parental monitoring (supervision)
  • Individual and peers: interaction with prosocial peers
  • Individual and peers: opportunities and rewards for prosocial peers involvement
  • Individual and peers: regular exercise
  • School and work: commitment and attachment to school

Risk factor(s) addressed

  • Community: laws and norms favourable to substance use and antisocial behaviour
  • Environmental physical: Lack of opportunities for participation in positive and prosocial development
  • Environmental: Lack of community youth monitoring (unsupervised parties; unstructured/unmonitored leisure time)
  • Individual and peers: early initiation of drug/alcohol use
  • Individual and peers: favourable attitude towards alcohol/drug use
  • Individual and peers: interaction with antisocial peers

Outcomes targeted

  • Truancy – school attendance
  • Positive relationships
  • Relations with parents
  • Relations with peers
  • Other relationships (community, school)
  • Substance use
  • Alcohol use

Description of programme

There are correlational indications from cohort studies in Iceland (Kristjansson et al. 2010, 2016) indicating that three factors have contributed to the decrease of monthly drinking due to Planet Youth in Iceland: 1) knowledge of parents on how and with whom young people spend the afternoon and evening, 2) knowledge of parents of who the (parents of) friends of their child are, and 3) a minimum of doing a team sport 4 times a week. The objective of Planet Youth is therefore to strengthen a host of community protective factors, e.g. parental monitoring, parental co- communication and social involvement and adolescent participation in organised sports, and to decrease risk factors such as adolescent party lifestyle and unsupervised idle hours.

The Planet Youth model consists first of all in the identification of key adolescent risk and protective factors in communities. Some of the respective steps (10 in total) are for example

  • The formation of collaborative coalitions between ICSRA researchers and persons specified by each municipality, including policy makers (elected officials and municipal employees), community leaders, practitioners (e.g. school personnel and youth workers), and parents that become responsible for implementation of local-level activities.
  • The identification of key adolescent risk factors (e.g., idle hours and attendance at unsupervised parties) and protective factors (e.g., parental monitoring and participation in sports), based on local survey results and followed by grass-roots action organised by the local community coalition to reduce risk factors and strengthen protective factors.
  • Individualised reports supplied to each municipality, describing local trends in substance use, changes between years, and risk and protective factors suggested by analyses of the results for each local community. The findings in these reports are presented and discussed at local meetings with all members of the coalition, and prospective action plans are initiated or revised. This cycle of survey, analysis, reporting, consultation, and action is then repeated annually.

The 10 steps model of Planet youths is similar to the steps in other community prevention systems such as CTC or PROSPER.

The intervention elements implemented in Iceland were a) the promotion of parental monitoring and family dinners: parents are encouraged to spend more time with their offspring and to know where, and with whom they are, b) so-called leisure vouchers (for e.g. sports or music clubs) as particular identifiable element: supervised leisure time, and c) curfew hours for minors (22:00 in winter, midnight in summer). The whole model operates on an advantageous background of a) a strong national alcohol policy in Iceland and b) overall strong social norms and cohesion in this society, which in turn facilitate implementing curfew hours and promoting changes in parental behaviour. There are no investments in deterrence, awareness, warning campaigns, to prevent that scarce prevention funds are diverted to ineffective resources.

Implementation Experiences

No implementations available.