This overview of reviews will synthesise information from existing reviews to provide a summary of the evidence for universal alcohol and illicit drug prevention strategies across different intervention settings.
Academic databases, including Medline, EMBASE and PsycInfo were searched on 1 August 2016. All reviews and meta-analyses of universal alcohol and drug prevention conducted since 2006 were included. The reviews included in this overview were grouped according to the different settings where prevention strategies have been applied (i.e. family, school, college, workplace, leisure, healthcare, community, media and policy).
Fifty-two reviews met the inclusion criteria and were included in this report. There is sufficient evidence to support universal preventive interventions for alcohol in family and school settings. In terms of reducing drug use, there is sufficient evidence to support the use of school- and leisure-based universal primary prevention strategies. Based on evidence published in the last 10 years, mass media campaigns to do not appear to be effective in reducing drug use. More evidence is needed to support preventive interventions in college, workplace, healthcare and community settings.
Through the identification of settings where preventive interventions are effective, this overview can be used to guide alcohol and drug policy and the allocation of resources.
The evidence base for universal prevention in several settings could be strengthened, guiding priorities for future research.
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