April 29 2013
Getting To Outcomes: Improvement of Prevention Capacity Unveiled at a Summit of Maine Officials and Stakeholders
Drug and alcohol use among the nation's youth remains a problem. While evidence-based prevention programs are available, practitioners, especially those in smaller, community-based settings, often have difficulty using them. This is because resources are limited, prevention is complex, and communities often lack the capacity to adapt and implement “off the shelf” programs. A result of this “gap” between research and practice is that communities and schools often do not use the most evidence-supported programs, and often implement them poorly when they do.
For example, a recent report (PDF) by the Department of Education showed that fewer than 10 percent of schools were implementing evidence-based drug prevention programs, and fewer than half of those schools were doing a good job of implementing those programs. Common ways to bridge this gap, such as information dissemination, fail to change practice or outcomes at the local level, in part because they do not sufficiently address capacity or use community input. Building a community's prevention capacity through greater collaboration between researchers and practitioners could improve the quality of prevention and outcomes.