Family Matters is a family-oriented program designed to prevent adolescents 12-14 years of age from using tobacco and alcohol. The intervention is designed to influence population-level prevalence and can be implemented with large numbers of geographically dispersed families. The program encourages communication among family members and focuses on general family characteristics (e.g., supervision and communication skills) and substance-specific characteristics (e.g., family rules for tobacco and alcohol use and media/peer influences).
The program involves successive mailings of four booklets to families, each beginning with identification of the topics for the booklet and then proceeding in order with a question-and-answer section about the main substantive content of the booklet, a description of the suggested activities, a summary of the main considerations of the booklet, and a preview of the next part of the program. Booklet 1, "Why Families Matter", motivates the family to participate and become engaged by demonstrating the negative consequences to the family from adolescent substance use. Booklet 2 , "Helping Families Matter to Teens", focuses on general family characteristics known or believed to influence adolescents that are not specific to alcohol and tobacco use, such as supervision, support, communication skills, attachment, time spent together, educational achievement, conflict reduction, and how well adolescence is understood. Booklet 3, "Alcohol and Tobacco Rules are Family Matters", is concerned with tobacco and alcohol-specific variables that originate in the family and predict adolescent drug use. Booklet 4 is "Non-Family Influences That Matter", which considers variables that originate outside the family that can influence adolescent use.
Family members are asked to read the booklets and complete the activities intended to reinforce their content. Two weeks later, health educators contact the parent by telephone to confirm that the booklet was received, to arrange for sending another copy if not received, to determine if the booklet has been read and activities completed, to encourage family participation, to answer questions, and to assess the parent's satisfaction and other reactions to the booklet. A new booklet is mailed when the health educator determines that the prior booklet has been completed.