Lemonade from Lemons. In April 2020 during the first weeks of the Covid19 pandemic, we made a strategic decision to shift our focus from an in-person peer to peer opioid awareness program to an online program. With our partners at the Drug Enforcement Administration (New Jersey division), we got busy and created a new curriculum that could be effectively taught online. We introduced the 3 Must Knows for opioids (based on previous research done in 2019). So far we have completed 3 pilot programs with approximately 200 high school students with 3 more pilot programs scheduled for the balance of 2021. The move online will enable us to scale our program much faster and more efficiently so we can teach this life saving information to many more students. We believe that this is life saving lemonade.
Hear from the students and the creators about of the Model 3 Opioid Awareness program.
The opioid awareness program has been co-developed, co-presented, and refined in collaboration with several strategic partners, including members of the DEA’s Demand Reduction Team (New Jersey Division), faculty at Temple University’s College of Public Health, and an independent evaluation expert. It has also been substantially influenced by student feedback over the course of three pilots.
The course is presented entirely online. Classes meet six times over a three-week period. The curriculum is delivered in three formats:
Each student completes a pre- and post-program survey to gauge how well they have mastered core program content. High performing students are offered the opportunity to become Peer Ambassadors, who assist in presenting materials and facilitating discussions in subsequent iterations of the program.
To date, the program has been piloted in three educational settings:
Going forward, we envision offering both small- and large-group versions of the program. Both versions deliver positive outcomes. The small group program allows greater opportunities for student interaction and discussion, allows us to test new approaches for delivering content (e.g., using the Kahoot platform to reinforce student learning), and enables us to identify and recruit Peer Ambassadors. The large group program allows us to reach greater numbers of students in the same period of time, with only slight declines in student outcomes.
The Model 3 Program increases the odds of Better Choices
Watch students discussing the Model 3 Opioid Awareness Program
This program adopted an evaluation mindset from the beginning and views continuous feedback, learning, and integration of insights as part of the program itself. It began by asking and answering a research question that helped us gauge the level of need among high school students for this kind of a program, namely, “what do high school students know about opioids and their uses and misuses?” A questionnaire, which had more than 1800 respondents from Essex County high schools, showed that almost all students lacked basic knowledge about opioids and allowed us to tailor the program to existing needs.
The Model 3 Opioid Awareness Program’s efficacy has been assessed through the administration of pre- and post-program surveys to gauge student knowledge acquisition, and through post-program interviews and focus groups with students to understand what worked, what could be improved, and the extent to which students show evidence of having assimilated and understood the material. Results of these assessments demonstrate that the program is highly effective in achieving desired student outcomes. A sampling of student comments: “The program is an eye-opener”; “Great advice – great info – I also learned life skills”; “Definitely worthwhile – every student should know this”; “I’m more aware now – less judgmental about those who might be affected”; “Now I know better how this can affect my family”; “Don’t stop doing this.”
Expectations Regarding Student Learning
Almost every student involved in the Model 3 Opioid Awareness Program (98%) said that they learned something of value and that this learning will help them make “better choices” concerning opioids (100% in Pilot 2 and 88% in Pilot 3). Our expectation is that regardless of how likely a particular student might be to make good choices about opioids prior to the program, their odds of making better choices will improve after taking the program.
On the right are the topline results from two questions asked in the post-program questionnaire given in Pilot#3. Note: there were 140 students in Pilot #3 but the questionnaire was administered during an additional class session which some students could not attend.
Program Development Research (2019)
Pilot One (Aug 2020) – Small group (33 students) / Online / After school hours
Pilot Two (Feb 2021) – Small group (23 students) / Online / After school hours / Peer Ambassadors
Pilot Three (Feb 2021) – Large group (140 students) / Online / 50% during school hours, 50% after school hours