Failure of Intervention or Failure of Evaluation: A Meta-evaluation of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign Evaluation



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dr. Stephen Magura—Director, The Evaluation Center, WMU

The national Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign was conducted during 1998-2004 and evaluated through a national, four-wave panel study of adolescents. The evaluation’s results were unexpected and controversial, finding both no effects overall and a possibly harmful effect, namely inducing initiation of marijuana use. A meta-evaluation by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) supported the original evaluation’s major conclusions, but the Campaign’s sponsor, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), contested both the original evaluation’s findings and the GAO’s assessment of them. This study presents an alternative meta-evaluation of the original evaluation, concluding that the Campaign probably was ineffective, but without sufficient evidence of harmful effects.

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