Getting To Outcomes™

Improving Community-Based Substance-Use Prevention

Fact Sheet

A team led by RAND researchers created a science-based model and support tools to help local groups develop or improve substance-use-prevention programs. Entitled “Getting To Outcomes: Methods and Tools for Planning, Evaluation and Accountability,” the model is presented as an easy-to-use Web-based guide. Because the team felt it was important for Spanish-speaking communities to benefit from the Getting To Outcomes™ (GTO™) approach, they translated the program guide and supporting materials into Spanish. Both guides are available without charge on RAND’s Web site: TR-101-CDC in English (Full Document) and TR-101/1-CDC in Spanish (Full Document).

Supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the GTO model — which includes the manual, training, and onsite technical assistance — guides communities through the phases of evidence-based, locally developed substance-abuse prevention programs:

  • Planning — articulating a vision of local needs, identifying program goals, selecting evidence-based models and best practices to meet those goals, and incorporating these elements into a plan.
  • Implementing — adapting the goals to local conditions and marshaling the capacities and resources to put the plan into action.
  • Evaluating — developing a process for evaluating the program, assessing how well the program works, and incorporating strategies for continuous quality improvement.

Although the model originally aimed at preventing drug and tobacco use, it can also be used for programs targeted at other challenges, such as crime, teen pregnancy, delinquency, and intimate partner and sexual violence.

CDC also supported an assessment of GTO’s effect on prevention efforts by two community coalitions. Results showed that GTO helped those community coalitions to better plan, implement, and evaluate prevention programs; that these gains were related to greater use of GTO; and that GTO helped the coalitions demonstrate positive outcomes.

The RAND team is preparing a new GTO manual to help local groups and states implement evidence-based strategies and policies to address underage drinking, recently designated by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt as a priority for prevention efforts.


The trademarks “GTO” and “Getting to Outcomes” are owned by the University of South Carolina. These marks are used by RAND only with permission from the University of South Carolina.

This fact sheet is based on:


Matthew Chinman, Gordon Hannah, Abraham Wandersman, Patricia A. Ebener, Sarah Hunter, Pamela Imm, and Jeffrey Sheldon, “Developing a Community Science Research Agenda for Building Community Capacity for Effective Preventive Interventions,” American Journal of Community Psychology, Vol. 35, Nos. 3/4, June 2005, pp. 143-157.

Matthew Chinman, Debee Early, Patricia A. Ebener, Sarah Hunter, Pamela Imm, Penny Jenkins, Jeffrey Sheldon, and Abraham Wandersman, “Getting To Outcomes: A Community-Based Participatory Approach to Preventive Interventions,” Journal of Interprofessional Care, Vol. 18, No. 4, November 2004, pp. 441-443.


Copyright © 2006 RAND Corporation

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit research organization providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world. RAND’s publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.

RB-9172 (2006)