WE CONDUCTED A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW TO ANSWER THE QUESTION: Among youth <18 years of age with a mental disorder, does substance use prevention compared to no prevention result in reduced rates of substance use/abuse/disorder (SUD)?
The review was requested by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care through the Canadian Institutes for Health Research Evidence on Tap program.
A four-step search process was used: Search 1 and 2: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated a SUD prevention intervention in individuals with a mental disorder who were: 1) <18 years; or, 2) any age. Search 3: Observational studies of an intervention to prevent SUD in those with mental disorder. Search 4: RCTs that evaluated a SUD primary prevention skills-based intervention in high-risk youth <18 years.
Searches 1 and 2: one RCT conducted in youth was found; Search 3: two observational studies were found. All three studies reported statistically significant reductions in substance use. Search 4: five RCTs were found with mixed results. Methodological weaknesses including inadequate study power may explain the results.
Little is known about effective interventions to prevent SUD in youth with a mental disorder. Effective SUD primary prevention programs exist and should be evaluated in this high-risk group.
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