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New Substance Use Prevention Program Being Developed

new program will help prevent and reduce major long-term and immediate risk behaviors among these pre-teens when they become teenagers."

"We are very proud of these efforts to prevent unhealthy behaviors from starting in a whole new generation," said URI President Robert L. Carothers. "This is a new program that will take place in Rhode Island's middle schools, and it is one more example of the way in which the work of the University is changing the lives of thousands in this state and beyond."

Nicknamed Project BEST (Behavior Expert System Trial), this will be the first interactive study focused on prevention that will involve early adolescents. The University has received letters of support for the project from 20 Rhode Island middle schools and is now meeting with schools to arrange for their participation in September.

One of the unique features of these interventions is that they are tailored to each student. They are also fully interactive, making them very engaging for the students. If the expert system intervention results in the predicted outcomes, it will be an important breakthrough for school-based multiple risk factor studies and practical interventions.

Project BEST will involve children in two treatment groups. Researchers from the University will bring laptop computers with the health-focused multimedia interventions to the classrooms. As each student uses the program, it becomes tailored to his or her own individual level of risk behavior. The programs seek to prevent tobacco and alcohol use and promote healthy eating habits and physical exercise. Use of the expert system provides one-on-one contact and feedback with students that may supplement classroom-wide discussions by teachers. Participation in the study will also help schools meet the National Standards in Health Education for Grades 6-8. The computers will remember each students responses and can use that information to provide individ
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