Peer Network Counseling Effects on Substance Use: an Individual Participant Data Meta-Analysis Integrating Three Randomized Controlled Trials

Michael A. Russell, J. Douglas Coatsworth, Aaron Brown, Nikola Zaharakis, Jeremy Mennis, Gabriel C. Rodriguez, Michael J. Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study describes an individual participant data meta-analysis (IPDMA) testing the efficacy of a peer-network counseling (PNC) intervention for preventing substance use escalation in adolescents and young adults. PNC has shown efficacy in reducing substance use among adolescents and young adults across small-scale randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Identifying expected large-scale effects and moderators is an important next step in guiding use of PNC in practice. To this end, we combine three small-scale RCTs to test PNC intervention effects on substance use change in a combined sample of 421 adolescents and young adults (50% intervention, 55% female, 69% Black/African-American, M age [SD] = 17.3 [2.2] years). Our approach combines latent change score modeling in a structural equation modeling (SEM) framework with study-level fixed effects to obtain (a) a more generalizable PNC effect than we could obtain with each constituent sample and (b) greater power and precision for individual-level moderation of treatment effects. We found that although PNC main effects on substance use outcomes (past 30-day cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, and drug use) were not significant, PNC effects were moderated by individual-level pre-intervention substance use frequency. PNC more strongly reduced drug use at the 1-month follow-up and cannabis use at the 3-month follow-up among participants who showed higher baseline use of these substances. Implications of our approach and findings for prevention researchers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPrevention Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Study 1 funding has been supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 1R34DA032808-01A1. Study 2 funding has been supported by the Virginia Foundation for Health Youth. Grant # 8520894 Mod 1. Study 3 funding has been supported by the Center for Behavioral Health Research, University of Tennessee, College of Social Work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Society for Prevention Research.


  • Adolescent and young adult substance use
  • Individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis
  • Latent change score modeling
  • Peer network counseling (PNC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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