OPfS will evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and short-term impact of the PreVenture program when delivered to youth across Canada through a web-based video conferencing and digital platform. The study is supported by a grant from Foundation CHU Sainte-Justine.
There is reason to believe that current physical distancing measures put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 will increase risk for mental health concerns, substance abuse and drug overdoses (1), particularly among youth in high risk environments (2). It is essential that we continue to implement evidence-based interventions to support at-risk youth during the current health crisis. An important and cost-effective component of an evidence-based drug prevention strategy includes targeted mental health interventions (3).
The current team represents a Pan-Canadian collaboration across multiple school and health districts to scale up youth access to evidence-based mental health promotion/drug prevention interventions and to evaluate the implementation conditions that best promote program effectiveness and sustainability. However, social distancing measures, particularly closure of schools and clinics, now significantly interfere with recent efforts involved in mobilising school districts and health care delivery systems around youth mental health and drug prevention.
It is essential that we move rapidly to adapt and evaluate new implementation models to capitalise on the notable progress realised, thus far, in scaling up mental health services and drug and alcohol prevention to protect Canada’s most vulnerable youth in the midst of an existing addiction crisis and the new COVID-19 pandemic (2,4,5).
1. Volkow, N., (2020). Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M20-1212;
2. Jayasinha R, Nairn S, Conrod PJ. (2020). Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. doi.org/10.1177/0706743720943820;
3. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders, March 2016 https://www.unodc.org/docs/treatment/UNODC-WHO_2016_treatment_standards_E.pdf. Accessed May 06, 2020.
4. Torous J, Wykes T. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online May 11, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.1640. 5. Vigo D, et al., Can J Psychiatry. 2020:e1-7.
This study will use an uncontrolled within-group design with an embedded qualitative and quantitative process evaluation to assess the feasibility and acceptability of the new online delivery format of the PreVenture program.
Online adaptation will include a state-of-the art highly secure web-based delivery of the personality screening tool to help clinicians rapidly screen for eligible youth and communicate about intervention details in a highly secure end-to-end encryption platform. The manuals have been modified so that they are now available in digital format and ensure that youth have access to high-quality, personalised intervention material that will encourage participation in cognitive behavioural exercises during and after completion of the group sessions. The program will maintain much of its essential components (group-based, peer-interactions, facilitator-guided discussions, structured personality-targeted cognitive-behavioural exercises), but will be provided by trained facilitators to youth from a distance using a video conference platform.
Data collection methods will include: baseline, 6-month outcome assessment using an online survey; qualitative workshop feedback from youth who participate in PreVenture; and focus groups with facilitators to document experience delivering the online intervention.
Analysis and process evaluation will include: an impact assessment of immediate and 6-months post intervention outcomes and a feasibility and acceptability assessment using descriptive program participation data and facilitator and youth feedback.