A web-based approach to examining substance abuse prevention policies and programming at institutions of higher education in Houston

Lauren C Ibekwe, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine web-based information provided on college and universities websites to understand what student substance use, misuse, and abuse policies and programs are in place in the Greater Houston Area The Drug Free Schools & Communities Act of 1986 (DFSCA) requires institutions of higher education (IHE) who receive financial assistance from a federal program to adopt and implement a drug and alcohol abuse prevention program (DAAAP). These IHE are also required to annually distribute specific information about their DAAAP to their students and employees. The study purpose was to determine the extent to which colleges and universities use best practice and research-based strategies to inform their drug prevention efforts. Sample: Nineteen institutions of higher education were selected based on zip code, degree type (associates or bachelors), reception of federal assistance, and available independent website. Methods: Using best practice strategies, peer-reviewed interventions, comprehensive prevention policy guidelines, and assessment/evaluation toolkits I generated a list of policy and strategy items to use as a checklist to examine prevention programming on the campus websites. The information found was delineated into four categories: convenient accessibility, DFSCA compliance, smoking policies and programming, and drug and alcohol policies and programming. Results: Overall findings indicated that information was often difficult and time consuming to find and/or located on different pages throughout the college or university website. At least a third of the institutions failed to completely meet the requirements of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. Their use of recommended policies and best practice strategies to inform their alcohol, drug, and tobacco-related prevention efforts appeared relatively limited based on the information provided on their websites. Conclusions: Future efforts should focus on making information related to alcohol and other drug (AOD) policies and programming more convenient to find by including everything on one substance-specific webpage; updating policies to better comply with federal mandates; adopting more comprehensive policies to move towards becoming 100% tobacco and smokefree; and assessing the needs and gaps in resources for prevention and severity of their campus substance abuse to determine opportunities to enhance current efforts with more effective types of programming.^

Subject Area

Public health|Public policy|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Ibekwe, Lauren C, "A web-based approach to examining substance abuse prevention policies and programming at institutions of higher education in Houston" (2016). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10183282.