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Underage drinking is a significant problem in the United States: Alcohol is the primary contributor to the leading causes of death among adolescents. As a result, communitywide strategies to prevent underage drinking are more important than ever. Such strategies depend on the involvement and education of adolescents, parents, law enforcement officials, merchants, and other stakeholders. This guide is designed to take communities through the process of planning, implementing, and evaluating strategies to prevent underage drinking and youth access to alcohol. The guide is structured according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Strategic Prevention Framework, a five-step prevention approach. Within the five steps, the guide adopts the Getting To Outcomes™ model of empowerment evaluation, results-based accountability, and continuous quality improvement. The result is a comprehensive, step-by-step manual for developing, implementing, and evaluating a high-quality communitywide plan to prevent underage drinking and its related consequences. Recommendations include the development of educational strategies for parents, adolescents, and alcohol merchants; attracting the involvement of civic leaders; working to reform legislation governing underage access to alcohol; and training law enforcement officials to be vigilant but safe in their efforts to police underage drinking in the community.

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.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    How can we organize the community to profile community needs and resources regarding underage drinking? (Community Mobilization)

  • Chapter Two

    What are the underlying needs and conditions that must be addressed in the community to reduce underage drinking? (Assessment)

  • Chapter Three

    What are the goals, target populations, and desired outcomes for the community? (Goals)

  • Chapter Four

    What capacities need to be strengthened to develop and implement a plan to reduce underage drinking? (Capacities)

  • Chapter Five

    What evidence-based environmental strategies will be useful in helping to achieve the goals? (Environmental Strategies)

  • Chapter Six

    How will the environmental strategies to reduce underage drinking “fit” within the community context? (Fit)

  • Chapter Seven

    What is the plan for reducing underage drinking? (Plan)

  • Chapter Eight

    How will the implementation of plan to reduce underage drinking be assessed? (Process Evaluation)

  • Chapter Nine

    How well are the strategies working in the comprehensive plan to reduce underage drinking? (Outcome Evaluation)

  • Chapter Ten

    How will we ensure that the strategies to reduce underage drinking will continuously improve over time? (Continuous Quality Improvement)

  • Chapter Eleven

    If the underage drinking plan is successful, how will it be sustained? (Sustain)

  • Appendix A

    Summary Action Steps for Conducting a Policy Panel

  • Appendix B

    Choosing Policy Panel Members

  • Appendix C

    Example of a Community Policy Panel

  • Appendix D

    Needs Assessments Resources

  • Appendix E

    Environmental Scan: Data Collection Form

  • Appendix F

    Sample Data Collection Planning Tool

  • Appendix G

    Goals Tool

  • Appendix H

    Planning Tool

  • Appendix I

    Implementation Tool

  • Appendix J

    Community Change Event Log

  • Appendix K

    Community Change Summary

  • Appendix L

    CQI Tool

  • Appendix M

    Meeting Contact Form

  • Appendix N

    Outcome Evaluation Tool

  • Appendix O

    Sobriety Checks

The research in this report was funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The research was conducted within RAND Health, a division of the RAND Corporation.

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