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Am Fam Physician. 2004;70(8):1550

Clinical Question: Are school-based drug abuse prevention programs, specifically Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), effective?

Setting: Various (meta-analysis)

Study Design: Meta-analysis (other)

Synopsis: The authors criticized a previous systematic review because it included non–peer-reviewed publications (including annual reports to funding agencies) and studies that failed to report prevention of actual drug use. These authors systematically reviewed several databases and identified 11 studies that were published in peer-reviewed journals, included a control or comparison group, and had both preintervention and postintervention assessments of alcohol, illicit drug, and tobacco use. The authors did not describe any attempts to find unpublished literature. Additionally, they did not explain how the data were extracted, and they did not assess the quality of the studies. All told, D.A.R.E. is ineffective in preventing the use of alcohol, illicit drugs, or tobacco.

Bottom Line: D.A.R.E. is ineffective in preventing the use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and tobacco. A systematic review not referenced by these authors similarly found D.A.R.E. to be ineffective ( United States General Accounting Office. Youth illicit drug use prevention: DARE long-term evaluations and federal efforts to identify effective programs. Report GAO-03-172R. January 15, 2003. Accessed online August 6, 2004, at:http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d03172r.pdf). (Level of Evidence: 2a–)

POEMs (patient-oriented evidence that matters) are provided by Essential Evidence Plus, a point-of-care clinical decision support system published by Wiley-Blackwell. For more information, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com. Copyright Wiley-Blackwell. Used with permission.

For definitions of levels of evidence used in POEMs, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com/product/ebm_loe.cfm?show=oxford.

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This series is coordinated by Sumi Sexton, MD, editor-in-chief.

A collection of POEMs published in AFP is available at https://www.aafp.org/afp/poems.

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