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Health Promotion Projects on Substance Abuse

Continuation of the Path-finding Adventure Project (PAP - 2016/18) – an integrated screening and non-labeling secondary prevention program for students at high risk of substance use

The Path-finding Adventure Project (PAP) is a unique non-labelling and positively-framed secondary prevention programme tailored-made to prevent high-risk behaviours (e.g. drug use) among secondary students in Hong Kong. It is a collaborative project of Centre of Health Behaviours Research, CUHK (2011-18), Fire Services Department (2011-18) and The Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association (2014-18). The Project is supported by the Beat Drug Fund (2011/14: BDF101018; 2015/16: BDF140001; 2016/18: BDF150003).

PAP targeted Secondary 2 and 3 students aiming to reduce risky attitudes inductive of drug use and tackle the roots of the problem by enhancing protective factors such as family support, self-esteem, resilience and academic aspirations.


PAP adopted the positive positioning approach in order to encourage students to think about wide and positive opportunities in life. It is also an adventure-based programme along with the school-based mentoring groups of volunteers from the Fire Services Department. In 2016-18, 177 fire services personnel were trained up as mentors for the intervention to strengthen their mentoring skills in supporting adolescents at-risk of substance use, and enhance understanding of the conceptual framework and implementation of the project. The positive role models of the fire services personnel mentors create supportive environment for students and increase their sense of competence and confidence in exploration of future directions.


There were in total 1913 students from 11 local secondary schools completed the screening exercise of the Secondary Prevention Screening Index (SPSI), which was fully validated in the previous PAP (n=7,456). 239 positively-screened students in 2016/18 were invited to join a 9-month secondary PAP intervention programme, which included induction adventure activities, personal growth adventure workshops, path-finding workshops, a 4-day intensive training camp at the Fire and Ambulance Services Academy. Leaflets were distributed to all Secondary 2 and 3 students of all participating schools by the end of the academic year, as a primary intervention, to promote correct cognitions on substance use.


Parent training workshops were provided to 116 parents in 2016/18 to promote positive parent-child relationship, and developmentally appropriate and effective parenting skills. The workshops also allowed parents to practice effective skills for parenting, and delivering encouragement as well as acknowledgement of students’ achievement. Furthermore, teacher support handbook was provided to explain the rationale, process and milestone of the secondary intervention programme and increase teachers’ support to students undergoing the intervention. Parents and teachers are involved to create supportive family and school environments.


Baseline survey was collected before the first session of the intervention and post-programme survey as well as process evaluation was collected after the last session. 24 students were invited to join the qualitative interviews to collect in-depth understanding of their views on the intervention.


Statistical significant improvement was found in resilience, academic aspiration, career aspiration and social support from family among participating students. We also found encouraging improvements in perceived behavioural control on avoiding drug use, perceived (drug avoidance) self-efficacy and self-esteem among students in process evaluation and during the in-depth qualitative interviews. Overall, perceived behavioural control and protective factors (e.g. academic aspiration, career aspiration and resilience) in drug use were significantly improved among the participants of the secondary intervention programme. Furthermore, according to qualitative analysis, all outcomes meet the corresponding effectiveness.


The PAP is one of the very few secondary interventions for substance use prevention for secondary school students in Hong Kong. We strongly recommend continuation and scaling up of the promising PAP in the future, as it was well received by students and teachers. It has shown to be a unique and effective secondary intervention programme. We recommend stronger emphasis on future interventions for substance prevention targeting students to be placed on the development of secondary prevention programmes and to focus more on positive protective factors. Having continuous support from relevant departments of the Hong Kong Government and NGO, we hope this evidence-based, theory-based and non-labelling secondary intervention can be continued to support high risk students for the prevention of drug use.



Funded by Beat Drug Fund (Ref: BDF101018, BDF140001, BDF150003)

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