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Prevention programs in the 21st century: what we do not discuss in public

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Prevention research concerning alcohol, tobacco and other drugs faces a number of challenges as the scientific foundation is strengthened for the future. Seven issues which the prevention research field should address are discussed: lack of transparency in analyses of prevention program outcomes, lack of disclosure of copyright and potential for profit/income during publication, post-hoc outcome variable selection and reporting only outcomes which show positive and statistical significance at any follow-up point, tendency to evaluate statistical significance only rather than practical significance as well, problem of selection bias in terms of selecting subjects and limited generalizability, the need for confirmation of outcomes in which only self-report data are used and selection of appropriate statistical distributions in conducting significance testing. In order to establish a solid scientific base for alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention, this paper calls for discussions, disclosures and debates about the above issues (and others) as essential. In summary, the best approach is always transparency.
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Keywords: Prevention research; selection bias; self-report; statistical analyses

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-04-01

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