09:10pm Monday 21 October 2019

Can strengthening families prevent substance misuse? – major new study

Cardiff University is working with Oxford Brookes University and Swansea University to evaluate the Strengthening Families Programme (SFP10-14 UK) in six areas across Wales, part-funded by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Many factors which protect young people against substance misuse are found within the family. The Strengthening Families Programme aims to develop these factors, which include communication, parenting skills, and strategies to enable young people to deal with stress and peer pressure.  The SFP involves seven weeks of two-hour sessions for parents, carers and children, building the skills that protect young people and reduce risks.

Research in the USA has shown that the SFP can help reduce alcohol, tobacco and drug use among young people.  Now the Welsh research trial, called Project SFP Cymru, aims to see if it can achieve the same effect here.

Project SFP Cymru will involve more than 700 families in Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Flintshire, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil and Wrexham.  Half will be selected at random to take part in the Programme, with the other half acting as a comparison group.  A team from Cardiff University’s Cardiff Institute of Society and Health (CISHE) will monitor the results for two years after families enter the trial.  They will examine its success in reducing drinking, smoking and drug use, and also the young people’s mental health and success at school. The extent to which the Strengthening Families Programme provides value for money will also be assessed within the research project.

Professor Laurence Moore, leading the Cardiff University research team, said: “Alcohol, tobacco and drug use are major threats to the health and well being of young people in Wales and are also linked to anti-social behaviour, crime and poor school performance. The Strengthening Families Programme 10-14 UK is a promising programme based on one found to delay substance misuse in young Americans. We want to find out whether it works here.”

Health Minister Edwina Hart said: “The Assembly Government is determined to tackle alcohol and substance misuse. Through our investment in better prevention, education and treatment, we hope to reduce the impact of alcohol and substance misuse on individuals, families and communities.

“The Strengthening Families Programme aims to support families to change their behaviour and improve their health and quality of life. I look forward to receiving the report outlining the impact of the programme and whether it should be extended across Wales.”

Programme delivery in three areas is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government.  All research costs, and programme delivery in the other three areas are funded by a £2.1M research award from the National Prevention Research Initiative – a large consortium of charity and public sector organisations which support health research.  CISHE will run the evaluation independently of the programme providers, working with colleagues at Swansea University and Oxford Brookes University and the South East Wales Trials Unit.  Staff training for the teams delivering the programme is being provided by Cardiff Alcohol and Drug Team – an SFP centre of excellence.



For further information, please contact:

Stephen Rouse,

Public Relations Office,

Cardiff University.

029 2087 5596

e-mail: RouseS@cardiff.ac.uk


National Prevention Research Initiative

Further details regarding the National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI) can be found at http://www.npri.org.uk. The NPRI funding partners are: Alzheimer’s Research Trust;  Alzheimer’s Society;  Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council;  British Heart Foundation;  Cancer Research UK;  Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government Health Directorate;  Department of Health;  Diabetes UK;  Economic and Social Research Council;  Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Health & Social Care Research & Development Office for Northern Ireland;  Medical Research Council;  The Stroke Association;  Welsh Assembly Government; and World Cancer Research Fund. 

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities.  Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.  Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. 

Cardiff Institute of Society and Health (CISHE)

CISHE undertakes methodologically innovative multidisciplinary research with a focus on:

o    understanding and theorising the determinants of population health and well-being

o    the development and testing of interventions and policies to achieve sustainable improvements in the health and well-being of the public

o    rigorous evaluation of effectiveness.

It aims to lead and facilitate research of international excellence, placing emphasis on tackling health inequalities and ensuring that the results have an impact on policy and practice in Wales and beyond.  CISHE is based within the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University.  Visit CISHE’s website at http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/socsi/cishe/

South East Wales Trials Unit (SEWTU)

Funded by the Wales Office of Research and Development (WORD) since October 2006, the South East Wales Trials Unit draws together existing expertise in trials and other well designed multi-centre studies to form an experienced team to support excellence in Wales.  High quality research requires excellent scientific methods, but also an emphasis on good collaborative working towards a common goal.  SEWTU aims to build on its existing collaborations across Wales and beyond and is committed to working in partnership with all of the components of National Institute of Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR) to maximise the benefits to the people of Wales of this exciting initiative.  SEWTU is registered with the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC), demonstrating the ability to undertake large, multi-centre trials and other well designed studies to the highest standards.

Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Brookes University has been named the best modern university nine years running in the Sunday Times University Guide.  Over the past 25 years, the university has developed an outstanding reputation for teaching, with 24 subjects rated excellent – more than any other modern university.  And in the latest Research Assessment Exercise, more than three quarters of Brookes’ research was recognised to be of international quality.  Oxford Brookes became a university in 1992.  It has 18,000 students spread over three campuses in Oxford.  The university is just beginning a £150 million project to redevelop its campuses, to provide flexible and environmentally sustainable spaces for students, staff and the public. Visit the University website at: www.brookes.ac.uk

Swansea University / School of Human and Health Sciences

Swansea University is a world-class, research-led university situated in stunning parkland overlooking Swansea Bay on the edge of the Gower peninsula, the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Founded in 1920, the University now offers around 500 undergraduate courses and 150 postgraduate courses to more than 13,800 students. A full range of social, cultural and sporting amenities complements the campus lifestyle and contributes to the strong sense of community that the University embraces. Visit the University website at www.swan.ac.uk/

The School of Human and Health Sciences is the largest school at Swansea University and has multiple sites located at Swansea, Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. The School’s mission is to become a centre of excellence, conducting high quality research, promoting clinical practice and delivering high quality programmes that contribute to the health and prosperity of mid and west Wales. Visit the SHHS website at


Cardiff Alcohol and Drug Team

The Cardiff and Alcohol and Drug Team (CADT) began as a small community-based counselling service in 1986.  Over the last 24 years it has expanded to cover social work services, family services, training provision, homelessness services and through-care from prison.  CADT are leading on evidence-based, family focused primary and secondary prevention interventions in Wales.

For further information contact sfp@cardiff.gov.uk

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