Moving from Efficacy to Effectiveness

Implementing the Drug Market Intervention Across Multiple Sites

Published In: Criminology and Public Policy, Volume 16, Number 3 (August 2017), pages 787-814. doi: 10.1111/1745-9133.12316

Posted on on September 15, 2017

by Jessica Saunders, Michael W. Robbins, Allison J. Ober

Read More

Access further information on this document at John Wiley & Sons, Inc

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Research Summary

In 2012, the editors of CPP published an exchange about the Drug Market Intervention (DMI) in High Point, NC, concluding that it may be a promising approach to crime control but questioning whether it could be implemented across different settings. In this effectiveness study, we followed a cohort of seven sites that participated in a Bureau of Justice Assistance–sponsored DMI training to assess implementation and outcomes. Three sites were not able to implement, and implementation fidelity varied across the four sites that did implement. Of the four sites that held at least one call-in, only one was successful at reducing overall and drug crime (by 28% and 56%, respectively). This works out to an implementation rate of 57% with an average overall crime reduction of 16% (treatment-on-the-treated) or 4% (intent-to-treat). The results of this study demonstrate the importance of replication and the careful study of implementation fidelity prior to wide dissemination.

Policy Implications

When the findings of an evaluation reveal an effective crime reduction program, particularly when it garners significant public attention, it is not uncommon to rush to judgment that it should be widely implemented. DMI is a perfect illustration of this shortsighted approach to evidence-based crime prevention—multiple trials across a variety of contexts are necessary to understand whether a program is ready for broad dissemination and scale-up. The DMI program was challenging for sites to implement and resulted in significant reductions in crime in the site with the implementation fidelity that was highest and most similar to the original site. Our findings echo earlier concerns that the approach may be less effective across diverse settings and illustrate why effectiveness studies are vital in the development of evidence-based policy.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.