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Adapting and piloting the ASSIST model of informal peer-led intervention delivery to the Talk to Frank drug prevention programme in UK secondary schools (ASSIST+Frank): intervention development and pilot trial

Background: School-based drug prevention interventions have historically promoted abstinence, been delivered by school teachers or law enforcement officers, and had limited effectiveness in terms of prevention. Informal school-based peer-support has been effective in preventing smoking uptake but evidence on the prevention of illicit drug use using informal peer support is inconclusive.

Aims and objectives: The primary aim of this project is to develop, pilot and assess the feasibility, acceptability and delivery of two informal peer-led interventions designed to prevent illicit drug use among secondary-school students, as well as to assess trial recruitment and retention rates. We will evaluate the effect of a peer-led drug and a peer-led smoking intervention on the: incidence of drug use (primary outcome); the frequency of use of any and specific drugs; cannabis dependence; incidence of smoking; smoking frequency; nicotine dependence; and alcohol use. These data will not provide any indication of effectiveness but will give an indication of trial feasibility, effect-sizes and potential mechanisms of action to inform the design of a definitive phase three trial.

Study design: Intervention development, piloting and cluster randomised controlled pilot trial (MRC complex intervention phase II trial). Two drug prevention interventions (ASSIST+Frank and Frank friends) will be developed using the peer nomination and training manual from an existing effective peer-led smoking prevention intervention, ASSIST; content on drug misuse will come from the UK national drug education service, “Frank”. ( ASSIST+Frank and Frank friends will be piloted in one school each and be followed by a process evaluation and period of intervention refinement. A 4-arm cluster pilot RCT (ASSIST in year 8 with ASSIST+Frank adjunct intervention in year 9; ASSIST in year 8 only; Frank friends in year 9 only; usual care comparison) will then be conducted, with an embedded process evaluation.


Full Co-ordination

Study Type

Exploratory Trial


National Institutes of Health: Public Health Research Programme


NISCHR - Children and PHIRN

SEWTU – Children & Young People



Study Team

Dr Kim Madden (Trial Manager, Cardiff University)

Ms Julia Townson (Senior Trial Manager, Cardiff University)

Mr Nigel Kirby (Data Manager, Cardiff University)

Prof Laurence Moore (Glasgow University)

Professor Rona Campbell (University of Bristol)

Dr Adam Fletcher (Cardiff University)

Professor Christopher Bonell (Institute of Education)

Professor Simon Murphy (Cardiff University)

Professor Matthew Hickman (University of Bristol)

Professor William Hollingworth (University of Bristol)

Dr Aimee Grant

Key data

Start date
March 1, 2014
End date
Sept. 30, 2016
Grant value
General enquiries
Dr Kim Madden
Chief investigators
Dr James White

External links

Related pages