NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Cover of Adapting the ASSIST model of informal peer-led intervention delivery to the Talk to FRANK drug prevention programme in UK secondary schools (ASSIST + FRANK): intervention development, refinement and a pilot cluster randomised controlled trial

Adapting the ASSIST model of informal peer-led intervention delivery to the Talk to FRANK drug prevention programme in UK secondary schools (ASSIST + FRANK): intervention development, refinement and a pilot cluster randomised controlled trial

Public Health Research, No. 5.7

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .

Author Information
Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; .


This study had good recruitment and intervention acceptability and supports progression to a full full-scale trial of ‘FRANK friends’ drug prevention programme.



Illicit drug use increases the risk of poor physical and mental health. There are few effective drug prevention interventions.


To assess the acceptability of implementing and trialling two school-based peer-led drug prevention interventions.


Stage 1 – adapt ASSIST, an effective peer-led smoking prevention intervention to deliver information from the UK national drug education website [see (accessed 29 August 2017)]. Stage 2 – deliver the two interventions, ASSIST + FRANK (+FRANK) and FRANK friends, examine implementation and refine content. Stage 3 – four-arm pilot cluster randomised control trial (cRCT) of +FRANK, FRANK friends, ASSIST and usual practice, including a process evaluation and an economic assessment.


Fourteen secondary schools (two in stage 2) in South Wales, UK.


UK Year 8 students aged 12–13 years at baseline.


+FRANK is a UK informal peer-led smoking prevention intervention provided in Year 8 followed by a drug prevention adjunct provided in Year 9. FRANK friends is a standalone informal peer-led drug prevention intervention provided in Year 9. These interventions are designed to prevent illicit drug use through training influential students to disseminate information on the risks associated with drugs and minimising harms using content from Training is provided off site and follow-up visits are made in school.


Stage 1 – +FRANK and FRANK friends intervention manuals and resources. Stage 2 – information on the acceptability and fidelity of delivery of the interventions for refining manuals and resources. Stage 3 – (a) acceptability of the interventions according to prespecified criteria; (b) qualitative data from students, staff, parents and intervention teams on implementation and receipt of the interventions; (c) comparison of the interventions; and (d) recruitment and retention rates, completeness of primary, secondary and intermediate outcome measures and estimation of costs.


+FRANK and FRANK friends were developed with stakeholders [young people, teachers (school management team and other roles), parents, ASSIST trainers, drug agency staff and a public health commissioner] over an 18-month period. In the stage 2 delivery of +FRANK, 12 out of the 14 peer supporters attended the in-person follow-ups but only one completed the electronic follow-ups. In the pilot cRCT, 12 schools were recruited, randomised and retained. The student response rate at the 18-month follow-up was 93% (1460/1567 students). Over 80% of peer supporters invited were trained and reported conversations on drug use and contact with trainers. +FRANK was perceived less positively than FRANK friends. The prevalence of lifetime illicit drug use was 4.1% at baseline and 11.6% at follow-up, with low numbers of missing data for all outcomes. The estimated cost per school was £1942 for +FRANK and £3041 for FRANK friends. All progression criteria were met.


Both interventions were acceptable to students, teachers and parents, but FRANK friends was preferred to +FRANK. A limitation of the study was that qualitative data were collected on a self-selecting sample. Future work recommendations include progression to a Phase III effectiveness trial of FRANK friends.

Trial registration:

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN14415936.


This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research programme and will be published in full in Public Health Research; Vol. 5, No. 7. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information. The work was undertaken with the support of the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer). Joint funding (MR/KO232331/1) from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the Welsh Government and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK CRC, is gratefully acknowledged.


About the Series

Public Health Research
ISSN (Print): 2050-4381
ISSN (Electronic): 2050-439X

Article history

The research reported in this issue of the journal was funded by the PHR programme as project number 12/3060/03. The contractual start date was in March 2014. The final report began editorial review in January 2017 and was accepted for publication in June 2017. The authors have been wholly responsible for all data collection, analysis and interpretation, and for writing up their work. The PHR editors and production house have tried to ensure the accuracy of the authors’ report and would like to thank the reviewers for their constructive comments on the final report document. However, they do not accept liability for damages or losses arising from material published in this report.

Declared competing interests of authors

Laurence Moore and Rona Campbell are Scientific Advisors to DECIPHer IMPACT, a not-for-profit organisation that licenses the ASSIST smoking prevention programme. Adam Fletcher, Rona Campbell, Matthew Hickman and Chris Bonell are members of the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Research Funding Board.

Last reviewed: January 2017; Accepted: June 2017.

Copyright © Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO 2017. This work was produced by White et al. under the terms of a commissioning contract issued by the Secretary of State for Health. This issue may be freely reproduced for the purposes of private research and study and extracts (or indeed, the full report) may be included in professional journals provided that suitable acknowledgement is made and the reproduction is not associated with any form of advertising. Applications for commercial reproduction should be addressed to: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK.
Bookshelf ID: NBK458897PMID: 29068622DOI: 10.3310/phr05070


  • PubReader
  • Print View
  • Cite this Page
  • PDF version of this title (1.0M)

Other titles in this collection

Related information

Similar articles in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...