GMI_ALC: Developing a teacher training programme for a Group Motivational Interviewing intervention to prevent alcohol misuse in secondary schools.

Principal / Lead Investigator
Type of study



Encouraging young people to develop healthy lifestyle habits and reduce unhealthy or risky behaviours is important for improving health across the life course. Alcohol use during adolescence has been shown to track into later adulthood and so may increase the likelihood of long-term harms to health. Although there have been reductions in adolescent alcohol use over the past decade, it is still a public health priority to prevent young people from initiating alcohol use and to reduce existing alcohol use. Young people begin to experiment with alcohol as young as 13 years old so interventions to reduce alcohol are needed during this period of young adolescence. In secondary school, adolescents usually receive a form of personal and social education [PSE] to provide them with the knowledge and skills for healthy living. However, there is a lack of evidence as to the most effective educational approaches to support healthily behaviours, although motivational interviewing shows some potential. 

This study explored the use of a new approach to PSE, which is based on Group Motivational Interviewing [GMI], with a focus on alcohol use. We have developed a GMI intervention in collaboration with students and teachers that can be used in a typical PSE session. The intervention encourages students to interact with each other and share their experiences in order to reflect on their personal motivations for and against alcohol use. It also encourages students to make responsible and well-informed decisions. Our initial work suggests that students value these learning opportunities and that the GMI intervention is an acceptable approach to alcohol education in secondary schools. However, in this initial work, the intervention was delivered by highly skilled and experienced facilitators. It would be unsustainable for schools to attempt to deliver the intervention in this way in the long-term. 

This study built on our initial work to explore what resources and skills teachers need in order to be able to deliver the intervention, and in collaboration with teachers, students and other stakeholders we will develop a training package for teacher delivery of the intervention. Following this, we tested the training package with a small number of teachers, and will evaluate how acceptable the package is to them. We also evaluated the delivery of the intervention by the trained teachers to Year 8 students. We interviewed the trained teachers to find out how feasible they think delivering the intervention is, and we will run focus groups with students who received the intervention to find out what they think about it as well. Following these evaluations we worked with teachers, students and other stakeholders to finalise the intervention design. This research will not tell us whether the intervention is effective in reducing or preventing alcohol use, but it supports the development of the intervention which could then be evaluated in the future.

Who is the study sponsor?

Cardiff University

UKCRN portfolio number



Medical Research Council                      

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Outputs (Publications, reports, presentations)

Hawkins, J.et al. 2017. Development and evaluation of a teacher training programme for a Group Motivational Interviewing intervention to prevent alcohol misuse in secondary schools [GMI_ALC]. Presented at: 5th International Conference on Motivational Interviewing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.

Hawkins, J., Murphy, S. and Gobat, N. H. 2014. Promoting health in secondary school pupils: Group Motivational Interviewing (GMI) to prevent alcohol and substance misuse. Presented at: 4th Welsh Public Health Conference, Cardiff, Wales, 6-7th October 2014.

Hawkins, J. (2016) Group motivational interviewing in schools: Development of a health promotion intervention. Health Education Journal