January Newsletter
Prevention Science 101 - Back to the Basics
Prevention Science is the attempt to determine which activities are effective in preventing or reducing the impact of social, emotional and behavioral problems by applying systematic observation, inductive and deductive reasoning, and the formation and testing of hypotheses and theories.

In the field of substance misuse prevention, the primary goals of prevention science are to advance our understanding of the onset, development and course of problems related to substance misuse, and to design and test interventions that promote healthy individual and social functioning and reduce risk for problem behaviors. These interventions may use a wellness approach to support positive development for individuals, families, organizations, and communities or may focus on reducing or altering conditions that place individuals and communities at risk for poor outcomes. Prevention science helps decision makers determine which combinations of interventions work best within specific community contexts and are developmentally and culturally appropriate and accessible.

While most prevention practitioners do not conduct or evaluate research, it is important that practitioners are aware of the standards and best practices that guide researchers’ work in prevention science. In addition, when practitioners are involved in the identification, selection, and implementation of evidence-based practices, it is critical to use resources that describe and assess evidence of effectiveness for any strategy under consideration.

  1. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Scientific Method, Retrieved from: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-method/
  2. Colorado State University, Prevention Research Center. Prevention Science, Retrieved from: https://www.chhs.colostate.edu/prc/about-us/prevention-science/
Additional Resources - Prevention Science 101

 Substance Misuse Prevention for Young Adults

This guide supports health care providers, systems, and communities seeking to prevent substance misuse among young adults. It describes relevant research findings, examines emerging and best practices, identifies knowledge gaps and implementation challenges, and offers useful resources.
Preventing the Use of Marijuana: Focus on Women and Pregnancy

This guide supports health care providers, systems, and communities seeking to prevent marijuana use by pregnant women. It describes relevant research findings, examines emerging and best practices, identifies knowledge gaps and implementation challenges, and offers useful resources.

Finding Evidence-based Programs and Practices
This resource sheet from SAMHSA helps identify information on evidence-based prevention programs and practices for prevention practitioners and individuals working in related behavioral health fields. Resources include :
  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development identifies youth violence, delinquency, and drug prevention and intervention programs that meet a strict scientific standard of program effectiveness. https://www.blueprintsprograms.org/
  • The Athena Forum at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services describes substance misuse prevention programs and strategies with evidence of success https://www.theathenaforum.org/EBP
Wyoming Environmental Strategies Tool
The Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming, under contract to the Public Health Division of the Wyoming Department of Health, created an inventory of environmental substance abuse prevention strategies targeting alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs employed in Wyoming’s state-funded prevention system and assessed the evidence base and effectiveness of the evidence for each identified strategy.
Selecting Best-fit Programs and Practices: Guidance for Substance Misuse Prevention Practitioners

Developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This resource places the selection of programs and practices within the broader context of evidence-based prevention. Specifically, it explores:
  • The value of embedding program and practice selection in strategic planning process
  • Where to find information on programs and practices and how to choose among them
  • Tips to adopting, adapting, and innovating programs and practices and for supporting their successful implementation and continual improvement at the local level
Standards of Knowledge for the Science of Prevention     

This document puts forth a set of shared standards for training that is comprehensive and relevant to prevention researchers in order to facilitate a greater understanding of prevention science and aid in the training of prevention researchers.  
Standards of Evidence for Efficacy, Effectiveness, and Scale-up Research in Prevention Science: Next Generation

A decade ago, the Society of Prevention Research (SPR) endorsed a set of standards for evidence related to research on prevention interventions. These standards (Flay et al., Prevention Science 6:151–175, 2005) were intended in part to increase consistency in reviews of prevention research that often generated disparate lists of effective interventions due to the application of different standards for what was considered to be necessary to demonstrate effectiveness. In 2013, SPR’s Board of Directors decided that the field has progressed sufficiently to warrant a review and, if necessary, publication of the next generation of standards of evidence. This article reports on the results of this committee’s deliberations, summarizing changes made to the earlier standards and explaining the rationale for each change.

Advocacy for Prevention Science
This document is intended to provide prevention scientists with a guide for advocating for prevention science. It is hoped that it will help prevention scientists articulate the value of prevention science and the specific things that need to happen if the tremendous potential of prevention science is to be realized .
Society for Prevention Research (SPR) Policy Briefs

The Society for Prevention Research provides a variety of informative policy briefs related to the practice and application of prevention science including:  Prevention Works: A Call to Action for the Behavioral Health System, Schools Can Help Every Student Succeed by Using Evidence-based Programs and Practices, and Taking Evidence-based Interventions to Scale in Public Health Systems.
Co-occurring Evidence-based Practice Guidebook  
This guide supports health care providers, systems, and communities to address first-episode psychosis and co-occurring substance use disorders. It describes relevant research, examines emerging and best practices, identifies knowledge gaps and implementation challenges, and offers resources .
What's Happening Around the Region?
Training and Events
Webinar: Drug Endangered Children: A Collaborative Approach

Date: January 29, 2020
Time: 2:00 CT

You will gain awareness about drug endangered children and the risks they face and understand the many opportunities (often missed) to identify children living in dangerous drug environments. Learn the benefits of intervention at the earliest possible point to reduce physical and psychological harm to children. Learn what a multidisciplinary collaborative response looks like and how it incorporates the unique resources within a community and applies them in a manner that provides better care for drug endangered children.

Who Should Attend: child welfare, law enforcement, district attorneys, probation/parole, treatment, ongoing service providers, education, fire, EMS, judges, community members, and other first responders who have a job which impacts children and families
Drug Endangered Children: March Peer Sharing Call

Date: March 12, 2020
Time: 1:00 CT

Please join us for our quarterly drug endangered children's peer sharing call. We will be joined by Eric Nation and Stacee Read from the  National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children.
Listen to our most recent podcast!

Episode 22: Prevention Specialist Certification

The first ever cross-regional podcast episode with Nicole Augustine at the Southeast PTTC to chat about prevention specialist certification.

Nicole is the Project Coordinator for the Southeast Prevention Technology Transfer Center (PTTC) at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She has been working in the field of prevention since 2001. Nicole has a Master of Public Health degree from The George Washington University School of Public Health. Nicole is a passionate prevention provider, committed to supporting initiatives designed to address the complex substance use issues affecting our society.

Nicole is going to share her expertise on the Prevention Specialist certification, the six domains under the credential, and outline the benefits of becoming credentialed.
Free Self-guided Learning Courses

  • Introduction to Substance Abuse Prevention: Understanding the Basics
  • Marijuana
  • E-Cigarettes and Vaping
  • Early Childhood Development: Toxic Stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Prevention in Action Series: Teaching the SAPST at a University
  • Minecraft, not Ms. Pac-Man: Transforming Prevention Presentations for Today's Audience
  • Evaluation
  • Social Media and Use of Technology
  • “Talk. They Hear You.” Campaign

Online Courses
All online courses can be accessed at: healtheknowledge.org/courses
If you are new to HealtheKnowledge, please log in or set up an account here: healtheknowledge.org/new-user
Check out the Mid America Prevention Technology Transfer Center website for additional resources and training!
Mid-America PTTC
The Mid-America Prevention Technology Transfer Center (Mid-America PTTC) is designed to serve as a prevention catalyst, empowering individuals and fostering partnerships to promote safe, healthy, and drug-free communities across Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Our services are evidence-based, culturally competent, and locally focused. We provide intensive technical assistance to support organizations' and systems' efforts to implement evidence-based prevention strategies. The Mid-America PTTC also forms partnerships with local and regional stakeholders to ensure that the training needs of the region are identified and met.

The Mid-America PTTC goals are to:
  • Accelerate the adoption and implementation of evidence-based and promising substance misuse prevention strategies.
  • Heighten the awareness, knowledge, and skills of the workforce that addresses substance misuse prevention.
  • Foster regional and national alliances among culturally diverse practitioners, researchers, policymakers, funders, and the local communities.

To learn more about our services:  Mid-America PTTC
What Can We Learn from Prevention Science?
Iris E. Smith, Ph.D., M.P.H.
In the past 5-10 years, prevention research has begun to broaden its focus from simply identifying effective programs to examining more closely the factors that support successful program implementation and how these factors contribute to positive outcomes. There has also been an increased emphasis on looking to the body of emerging scientific evidence to inform decision-making at the policy, as well as the programmatic, level. This has resulted in increased pressure at the practitioner level to select and implement intervention strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing or preventing substance use.  SAMHSA’s Substance Misuse Prevention for Young Adults (SAMHSA, 2019) includes a compendium of evidence-based prevention programs and strategies that have been rigorously evaluated and demonstrated a measurable difference in substance use or related outcomes. SAMHSA’s review criteria included: the use of a randomized trial, or other quasi-experimental design in the evaluation; specification of the intervention target and outcomes; comparison groups and follow-up measures of 6 months or more; and outcomes that showed a measurable impact on substance misuse or related outcomes. An additional seven “quality of evidence” criteria were also applied: reliability of outcome measures; validity of outcome measures; pretest equivalence; intervention fidelity; analysis of missing data; attrition; and appropriate application of statistical analyses. Descriptions of each program are included as well as contact information for the developer. This guidance document is a valuable resource for identifying evidence- based interventions to address similar risk or protective factors at the community level.
However, intervention selection is only the first step. The effectiveness of any intervention will also depend on the quality and fidelity of the implementation process. There are a number of process models such as SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) that have been developed to guide the planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs at the local level. The SPF framework is based on six steps: assessment, building community capacity, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
Until recently, less attention has been paid to identifying and strengthening internal and contextual supports that can sometimes mean the difference between successful and unsuccessful implementation, sustainability, and positive program outcomes.
Emerging Topics in Prevention Science
  • The importance of implementation monitoring. The integrity of the implementation process will depend on many factors, some outside of program control. Just as we use the socio-ecological framework when considering individual risks and protective factors, programs are also embedded in multi-layered systems such as service systems, culture, community, and the larger socio-political environment. These factors can influence the success of implementation independent of the program’s documented effectiveness. Influencers may include training and technical assistance received, political will, stakeholder support, coalition functioning, and capacity of the implementing organization.[1] It is critical to monitor the implementation of interventions in order to ensure fidelity, identify potential barriers, and when necessary adapt evidence-based interventions to achieve the best “fit” for the community conditions.
  • Sustainability. The term sustainability refers to a program’s longevity after initial seed funding has expired. Research on sustainability is limited, but interest in this topic is clearly growing. In a study of 243 evidence-based programs in Pennsylvania, Rhoads et al. (2015) found that organizational and community stakeholder support, better program fit (i.e. lack of reasons for changing the program model) knowledgeable, well trained program implementers, and sustainability planning were related to sustainability past the initial funding cycle.[2] In a similar study of evidence based programs in Tennessee, Collins et al. (2017) found increases in data resources, funding, level of expertise available during implementation, and level of coalition formalization at the end of the SPF SIG predicted the length of sustainability.[3]

Free online course offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The course learning objectives are:
  • Define prevention effectiveness
  • Describe the key components of prevention effectiveness studies
  • Identify basic economic evaluation methods used in prevention effectiveness studies
  • Identify data used in the most common forms of economic evaluation studies
Prevention Technology Transfer Center Network (PTTC), Data Dive Companion (2019)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Focus on Prevention. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 10–4120 Rockville, MD: Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Revised 2017.
Preskill H and Jones N (2009).   A Practical Guide for Engaging Stakeholders in Developing Evaluation Questions .   Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Evaluation Series.

This guide provides the reader with a five-step process for involving stakeholders in developing evaluation questions and includes four worksheets to facilitate the process. It is intended as a guide to grant recipients, evaluators, program officers, and others on how to engage stakeholders.

  1. May C (2013) Towards a General Theory of Implementation. Implementation Science 8 (18), pg.
  2. Rhoads Cooper B, Bumbarger BK, Moore JE (2015). Sustaining Evidence-Based Prevention Programs: Correlates in a Large-Scale Dissemination Initiative. Prevention Science 16 (1), pg. 145-157.
  3. Johnson K, Collins D, Shamblen S, Kenworthy T, Wandersman A (2017). Long Term Sustainability of Evidence Based Prevention Interventions and Community Coalitions Survival: A Five- and One-Half Year Follow-up Study. Prevention Science 18 (5), pg. 610-621.
Iris E. Smith, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Iris Smith is Associate Professor Emeritus of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health where she has taught graduate courses in Program Evaluation, Substance Abuse, Social Determinants of Health, and the Mental Health Capstone course. In addition to teaching Iris also served as principal or co-investigator for numerous studies on the prenatal effects of alcohol and other drugs and treatment and interventions with substance abusing women, including a treatment demonstration grant for pregnant and parenting addicted women and their children (1979-1999). From 2004-2011 she was Co-investigator for the Emory Prevention Research Center and from 2007 to 2010 she served as the lead evaluator for the Atlanta Clinical Translational Science Institute.