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A Toolkit to Assist Massachusetts School Nurses Start Elementary School Substance Use Prevention Education Programs

Purpose: Massachusetts currently only mandates fifth-twelfth grade substance use prevention. Literature states it is counter productive to wait until the adolescent years to initiate substance use prevention due to the adolescent developmental stage of social conformity. Starting evidence-based substance use prevention education in early elementary school will arm children with the knowledge and confidence they need to make healthy choices and reduce future high school drug rates. Methods: A toolkit was created to assist Massachusetts elementary school nurses to start a substance use prevention program in their schools/districts. The toolkit was presented and evaluated in January 2018 by the Massachusetts school nurse leaders that attended the five regional school nurse leader meetings. A pre- and post-presentation survey was distributed to 192 school nurse leaders to ascertain if the toolkit was helpful. Results: Out of the 351 school nurse leaders in the Commonwealth, 192 attended the five meetings, 160 completed surveys, and 39 wrote comments. With survey results and written feedback from 11% of Massachusetts school nurse leaders (39 out of 351), the toolkit was edited and improved. The final toolkit was posted February 2018 to the Boston University School Health Institute for Education and Leadership Development website with the endorsement of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Conclusion: Survey analysis revealed that the toolkit presentation increased school nurse leaders’ likelihood of starting an early elementary school substance use prevention program (average mean increase of .825 on a 1-4 Likert Scale).