PhD Scientific Days 2024

Budapest, 9-10 July 2024

Health Sciences II.

Implementation of addiction prevention in Hungarian elementary schools


Dorottya Árva1, Zsuzsa Rákosy2
1: Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Semmelweis University
2: University of Pécs MTA-PTE Innovative Health Pedagogy Research Group; Bethesda Children’s Hospital; University of Pécs, Medical School, Department of Public Health Medicine

Text of the abstract

Adolescence is a period marked by experimentation, while children first encounter drugs and addictive behaviors such as nicotine, alcohol and online gaming. School is a key setting for developing the skills needed to prevent the development of addiction. In Hungary, legislation states that all children must participate in holistic health promotion (HHP) at school, including addiction prevention, however rates of substance use are above the European average.

Our aim was to investigate the extent to which addiction prevention is implemented in Hungarian elementary schools and to analyze the factors influencing this.

An online survey-based study was run by the Ministry of Human Capacities in February 2020 with the invitation of all Hungarian elementary schools (N=3,601). Questions targeted the school size, type by funding, support of teachers’ HHP activity (training, diversity of implementers) and the implementation of addiction prevention. Schools were grouped as high-, or low-quality implementers and factors influencing implementation quality were analyzed by logistic regression.

Of the 2,892 participating schools, 74% dealt with smoking during HHP, 71% with drug use, 62% with alcohol use, 61% with the use of electronic devices and 51% with on/offline bullying. Twenty percent was grouped as high-quality implementers and the odds of being in this group was higher for state and church schools, for those providing health-related training for teachers with an optional supplement of skills building, and where the number of type implementers was higher. School size was not predictive of implementation quality.

The implementation quality of addiction prevention should be further strengthened in Hungary in order to combat the high rates of substance use. Coverage of all relevant topics needs to be ensured with an emphasis on empowering children to be protected from the risks of alcohol and electronic devices. Possible targets for improvement include supporting teachers through training and involving different actors in addiction prevention, ensuring multidisciplinarity.

This study was supported by the Scientific Foundations of Education Research Program of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (SZKF-12/2021), Central Budget of Hungary for 2019 and DÁ was granted with the Semmelweis 250+excellence PhD scholarship.