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 a pilot trial

Lead investigator
Dr. James White, Cardiff University

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

Aims & objectives
The primary aim of this project is to develop, pilot and assess the feasibility, acceptability and delivery of two new, 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 these 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.

Further information & publications
Start date
1 March 2014
End date
30 September 2016

NIHR PHR Programme