Peer-to-peer motivational interview intervention for smoking, alcohol and physical activity among at-risk adolescents in low SES communities: A feasibility trial

Unhealthy behaviours established during adolescence often persist into adulthood; we will examine the effects of training adolescents (13-18 years) in a proven method for behaviour change (motivational interviewing) for smoking cessation, alcohol consumption and exercise promotion among adolescents in low SES communities. Peer-led health education strategies in schools are effective in promoting healthy behaviours amongst young populations. By increasing health promotion behaviours, the project provides adolescents with key health behaviour habits that reduce the risk of later chronic illness. The project focuses on peers as educators of behaviour change as an adolescent's peer group can have a strong influence on how he or she behaves in terms of Healthpromoting (regular physical exercise) and health compromising behaviour (smoking, alcohol consumption). The project capitalises on peer influence to enhance healthy behaviours: the credibility of the peer educators provides the critical base upon which the behaviour change programme is built. Motivational interviewing (MI) encourages the individual to change and gives him or her the confidence to do so. It has been successful in changing various unhealthy behaviours among young people. In this feasibility trial, 18 peer educators will be trained in motivational interviewing and will deliver the intervention to youth organisations three low SES communities (youth organisations in three similar communities will received peer co-delivered health education and an online self-directed intervention to act as the control communities). Physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking outcomes are assessed using self-report questionnaires among at-risk youth in the low SES communities; in addition sub-samples (30%) of participants will provide objective measures of activity (using accelerometers) and smoking (using exhaled CO monitors). Interviews and focus groups will focus on the experiences of those who receive and deliver the interventions; furthermore, the perspectives of community health leaders and organisations will be sought on the interventions'impact.


Award Date
30 June 2016
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor David Hevey
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
MRCG-HRB Joint Funding Scheme