An ongoing evaluation of the Communities That Care prevention model found that communities that implemented the program had significantly lower rates of binge drinking than similar areas nearby, according to researchers at the University of Washington.

Eighth-graders exposed to Communities That Care had binge-drinking rates 37 percent lower than their peers in areas not served by the program, according to researchers David Hawkins and Richard Catalano, who developed the prevention program and are currently evaluating its effectiveness.

“This study shows we can prevent adolescent risk behaviors community wide by using this system,” said Hawkins. “What makes this system different from other prevention efforts is that it provides community coalitions with scientifically based tools with which to make decisions based on what is important to each town. The key is empowering each community to make scientifically grounded decisions about what program they need. That builds ownership.”

Use of alcohol and smokeless tobacco were also lower among 8th-graders in the Communities That Care areas, and the rate of delinquent behavior also was markedly lower. The findings come from the Community Youth Development Study, which compares youths living in 12 paired communities in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

The study was published in the September 2009 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.