Research Projects

keepin' it REAL /Mantente REAL Pilot Test in Nogales, Mexico

Target Population:
Early adolescents (7th grade) middle school students in a Mexican city bordering the US
Project Team:

Flavio F. Marsiglia, PhD; M. Hilda Garcia Pérez, PhD; Stephen S. Kulis, PhD

Project Status: Active

Sharp increases in substance use rates among youth in Mexico are a major concern in both Mexico and the US, and the US-Mexico border region has one of the highest drug use rates among youth. This collaboration between researchers at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte and at GCAHR advanced prevention science by better understanding how culturally influenced gender norms affect substance use offers, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as knowledge on the relationship between exposure to community violence and youth substance use in Mexico. The study also evaluated the applicability and feasibility of universal prevention programs along the US - Mexico border. 

Substance use behaviors, attitudes, and exposure; violence victimization, perpetration and witnessing

The study tested the efficacy of a version of the keepin’ it REAL curriculum for middle school students that was culturally adapted for Mexico and renamed Mantente REAL. Students in 7th-grade classrooms in four public schools participated in the study (N=1,418, 49% female, mean age=11.9). Using a clustered randomized design, two schools received the intervention and two served as a treatment-as-usual control group. Regular classroom teachers were trained to deliver the twelve-lesson Mantente REAL manualized curriculum. Parents provided active consent and students gave written assent to collect pretest and posttest questionnaire data, 7 months apart, at the beginning and end of the 2017-2018 academic year. 

Students who participated in Mantente REAL reported relatively less frequent use of alcohol and illicit drugs other than marijuana, compared to students in control schools. Males alone reported desirable intervention effects for marijuana use. These desirable effects were especially strong among students who reported higher initial levels of involvement in risky behaviors.  Among students more at risk, both females and males receiving the program reported relative reductions in the frequency of use of alcohol and illicit drugs.