Underage Drinking Prevention Project to Manage SAMHSA’s 2014 Town Hall Meetings Initiative

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will sponsor a fifth round of Town Hall Meetings next year to prevent underage drinking. URC will plan, implement, and manage the initiative through the Underage Drinking Prevention Education Initiatives (UADPEI) project, which ICF International leads.

Town Hall Meetings are bi-annual events sponsored by SAMHSA and hosted by community-based organizations nationwide to educate community members on the consequences of underage drinking; empower communities to make environmental changes to prevent underage drinking; and mobilize communities around underage drinking prevention initiatives at the local, state, and national levels. Many organizations that hosted meetings in 2012 will do so again in 2014, moving communities from awareness to action.

Underage drinking is a significant public health issue with serious health, educational, social, and economic consequences, including premature death and injury, sexual risk taking, poor academic performance, and substance abuse later in life. UADPEI provides health communication research, outreach, social marketing, materials development, and website management to SAMHSA’s underage drinking prevention program as part of a national effort to prevent underage alcohol use. 

The project strengthens community capacity to prevent underage drinking in several ways, including the Town Hall Meetings Initiative. URC will manage, oversee, and contribute to promotion, stakeholder engagement, web-based materials and video development, website development, and administrative functions related to the initiative. We will also support data collection for and preparation of the evaluation and media summary reports to wrap up the Town Hall Meetings initiative.

In 2012, UADPEI supported over 1,500 Town Hall Meetings in 50 states, six territories, and the District of Columbia. SAMHSA’s multifaceted evaluation process, including organizer and participant surveys, identified best practices for using Town Hall Meetings to raise awareness and engage communities in underage drinking prevention. 

Survey results included:

  • 76 percent of hosting organizations reported youth were involved in organizing and/or planning their Town Hall Meeting;
  • 85 percent of them reported use of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to promote their event;
  • 82 percent of participants said that they acquired new information about underage drinking and its consequences; and 
  • 90 percent of them indicated that they planned to share materials or lessons learned.

The survey also found that:

  • Meetings that were planned collaboratively among organizations attracted higher attendance; 
  • Meetings that incorporated law enforcement officials and/or elected officials garnered higher attendance and were more likely to lead to actions to reduce youth access to alcohol; and 
  • Female participants, participants age 18 or younger, and participants age 56 years or older were more likely to plan to share information about underage drinking.

See the key findings poster presented at the 2012 APHA Annual Meeting for more information.

Date 
November 27, 2013
Authors 
Barbara Kosogof, Deputy Director, Underage Drinking Prevention Education Initiatives and Niambi Wilder, URC Communications Specialist
Regions/ Countries