Open Access Study protocol

A cluster randomised controlled trial of the Climate Schools: Ecstasy and Emerging Drugs Module in Australian secondary schools: study protocol

Katrina E Champion*, Maree Teesson and Nicola C Newton

Author Affiliations

NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, 22-32 King Street, Randwick 2052, NSW, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1168  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1168

Published: 12 December 2013



The use of ecstasy is a public health problem and is associated with a range of social costs and harms. In recent years, there has been growing concern about the availability and misuse of new and emerging drugs designed to mimic the effects of illicit drugs, including ecstasy. This, coupled with the fact that the age of use and the risk factors for using ecstasy and emerging drugs are similar, provides a compelling argument to implement prevention for these substances simultaneously. The proposed study will evaluate whether a universal Internet-based prevention program, known as the Climate Schools: Ecstasy and Emerging Drugs Module, can address and prevent the use of ecstasy and emerging drugs among adolescents.


A cluster randomised controlled trial will be conducted among Year 10 students (aged 15–16 years) from 12 secondary schools in Sydney, Australia. Schools will be randomly assigned to either the Climate Schools intervention group or the control group. All students will complete a self-report questionnaire at baseline, immediately post-intervention, and 6-, 12- and 24-months post-baseline. The primary outcome measures will include ecstasy and emerging drug-related knowledge, intentions to use these substances in the future, and the patterns of use of ecstasy and emerging drugs. A range of secondary outcomes will also be assessed, including beliefs and attitudes about ecstasy and emerging drugs, peer pressure resistance, other substance use and mental health outcomes.


To our knowledge, this will be the first evaluation of an Internet-based program designed to specifically target ecstasy and NED use among adolescents. If deemed effective, the Climate Schools: Ecstasy and Emerging Drugs Module will provide schools with an interactive and novel prevention program for ecstasy and emerging drugs that can be readily implemented by teachers.

Trial registration

This trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12613000708752.

Internet; Prevention; Universal; School; Ecstasy; New and emerging drugs; Substance use