For Immediate Release: April 9, 2019

Media Contacts:
Ben Truman, Vermont Department of Health
802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281

Jennifer Nachbur, UVM Larner College of Medicine
802-656-7875 [email protected]


Department of Health and University of Vermont Call on Young Vermonters to Speak Up and Guide Substance Use Policies

New study designed to close knowledge gap in effective substance use prevention efforts

BURLINGTON – Vermont health experts have relied on youth surveys done every two years to inform substance use prevention programs and policies. But a lot can happen in two years. A new longitudinal pilot study, PACE Vermont, which stands for Policy and Communication Evaluation, aims to reach out to young people ages 12 to 25 to better understand and improve the impact of policies and communication campaigns on their substance use beliefs and behaviors.

The PACE Vermont study is a partnership between the Department of Health and the Vermont Center on Behavior and Health at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine. Funding for the project comes from the Health Department and the University of Vermont Cancer Center. The study will recruit 3,000 participants who will each complete three brief online surveys, spread out over a period of six months. Youth and young adult participants can earn at least $50 in online gift cards for completing all three surveys.

UVM Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychological Science Andrea Villanti, PhD, MPH, said there is a lot of excitement about the opportunity this study presents. “We see great value in the ability to inform substance use prevention efforts based on what’s happening right now in the lives of teens and young adults,” said Villanti. “The study is designed to be flexible and nimble, so we can keep up with young Vermonters who live in a rapidly changing environment.”

The surveys will delve into young Vermonters’ thoughts and opinions on issues that include tobacco, alcohol and substance use behaviors and beliefs, their awareness of related policies, and their exposure to/knowledge of statewide tobacco and substance use communication campaigns and prevention efforts. “PACE Vermont gets to the heart of understanding what young Vermonters think, feel and do when it comes to substance use, policies and health campaigns,” said Christie Vallencourt, who leads the PACE Vermont effort for the Health Department.

Parents need to first provide permission for their minor children to participate. They will have access to the study’s progress and key findings and can connect with other participating families on the PACE Vermont social media sites.  Individual survey responses are confidential.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, said the findings from this study will be an innovative and valuable complement to the data from the state’s other surveys of Vermont youth. “The near real-time aspect of the PACE Vermont survey will give us timely and unique insights into what young people are thinking right now about behaviors, practices and our efforts to impact them,” said Dr. Levine. “The data will be used to guide our efforts to improve the health of Vermonters for years to come.”

The PACE Vermont study team said the response has so far been greater than they had expected. More than 300 individuals signed up in just the first days after the survey opened.

To learn more and to participate in the survey, visit

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