Erick Lauber, professor of Journalism and Public Relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), has begun a project titled "Intensive Prevention Programming for Two Hard-Hit Counties in Rural PA" with funding in the amount of $122,392.

The goals of the project are to

  1. educate caregivers of youth about the dangers of substance use, particularly opiates, and the need for active prevention efforts and the availability of local resources for intervention and treatment,
  2. inform employers and working parents about active prevention, intervention, and treatment, and the special role of employers of youth, and
  3. educate the wider public about the dangers of substance use, particularly opiates, and the benefits of a drug-free Pennsylvania, and begin a stigma reduction campaign on the topic of substance use disorders.

Key deliverables will include:

  • new survey instruments designed to assess participant's behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes concerning substance use, particularly opiates;
  • increased knowledge by participants about prevention as assessed by pre-and-post tests;
  • new public media materials such as newspaper/radio ads, press releases, and a website with videos;
  • successful workshop completion by hundreds of workshop participants, primarily caregivers of youth or working parents;
  • thousands of community members reached through public media.

The project will consist primarily of three overlapping phases.

Phase one will focus on workshops for caregivers of youth in each of nine school districts. These workshops will inform both the caregivers about prevention and signs/symptoms, but also our team on prevailing attitudes, beliefs and behaviors associated with substance misuse. During this phase, our team will also develop business-related communication channels in order to implement phase two. Our team will begin the development of electronic and public media materials on prevention and stigma reduction.

Phase two will consist of workshops for working parents and employers of youth, and follow-up with earlier participants. In this phase all of the media materials will be completed, and a small, test-wave of the public media campaign materials will be conducted. In this phase all data collected earlier will also be analyzed.

Phase three will consist of follow-up with earlier participants and new workshops in the school districts. There will also be a launching of the full public media campaign materials, and continuing development of the stigma reduction materials. Near the end of phase three the entire project will be evaluated.

The ultimate goal of this intensive prevention program is to reduce the misuse of harmful substances, such as opiates. A complementary outcome is to change the hearts and minds of community members by increasing knowledge, changing attitudes, and ultimately changing behaviors of everyone involved.