Resource Types of Sexual Assault Prevention Activities in the Military: Finding and Assessing Effective Prevention Activities

Many different approaches to sexual assault prevention have been developed, and it can be challenging to sift through the options (see GTO Step Step 3). Many are educational in format and have had disappointing results. Other developers have begun to invest in novel and innovative approaches, such as bystander intervention and social norms marketing. Because it is not yet clear what approach will be best, prevention activity developers and researchers continue to design new strategies and evaluate them to see what works best. Unfortunately, as of 2020, no off-the-shelf prevention activity had strong evidence to support its effectiveness and represented a perfect fit for the military population, but there are many types of sexual assault prevention activities to try that would likely be superior to designing a prevention activity from scratch.

In this resource, we cover six categories of sexual assault prevention activities: (1) bystander intervention, (2) healthy relationship training, (3) women's empowerment, (4) alcohol misuse prevention, (5) social norms marketing, and (6) perpetration prevention with men. Table 1 shows examples of prevention activities within each category and the results they obtain that can lead to reduction of risk of sexual assault.

Table 1: Sexual Assault Prevention Activities That Get Results and Lead to Reduced Risk and Potentially Reduced Incidence of Sexual Assault

Decreased support for rape myths/harmful social norms Encourage positive bystander behavior Increase in risk perception Increase in self-defense skills Decrease in alcohol misuse
Healthy Relationships
Safe Dates yes no no no no
Shifting Boundaries yes no no no no
Perpetration Prevention
The Men's Program yes yes no no no
Coaching Boys into Men no yes no no no
Social Marketing
A Man Respects a Woman yes no no no no
Know Your Power no yes no no no
Bystander Intervention
Bringing in the Bystander yes yes no no no
Green Dot yes no no no no
Women's Empowerment
Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act (EAAA) yes no yes yes no
Alcohol Misuse Prevention
Parent-Based Intervention no no no no yes

The prevention activities included in this resource are all designed specifically for sexual assault prevention. However, it is possible that prevention strategies designed to reduce risk factors for sexual assault (for example, alcohol misuse, hazing, bullying) might also reduce sexual assault. If none of the included prevention activities seem to be a good match for your site, consider expanding your search for prevention activities designed to reduce the risk factor(s) that you are targeting.

Below we provide further information about each of the categories and examples of prevention activities included in Table 1 and their evidence base. Following the narrative, Table 2 outlines the target audiences, participation required, curriculum, and outcomes for each prevention activity described below. Other categorizations of prevention activities are also possible (for example, Basile et al., 2016, uses the following categories: promote social norms that protect against violence, teach skills to prevent sexual violence, provide opportunities to empower and support girls and women, create protective environments, support victims/survivors to lessen harms, and sector involvement), and the choice here does not imply that a listing in one category does not contain elements of more than one category. Within each category, we review one or two specific approaches for consideration. Some prevention activities have stronger evidence to support their usefulness than others.

Healthy Relationship Training

Instead of teaching participants strategies to avoid or prevent sexual assault, healthy relationship programs seek instead to teach participants the skills they need to create an intimate relationship that is free of violence (for example, conflict resolution, communication strategies). A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey of sexual assault prevention programs (Basile et al., 2016) identified only three programs that met their rigorous standard for effectiveness; two of them included healthy relationship components. Although promising, the two programs were designed for middle school students. Those programs have not been adapted for or evaluated with young adults or service members.

Safe Dates

The Safe Dates program is a ten-session educational curriculum for eighth- and ninth-grade students. It can be classified as a healthy relationship program because it teaches strategies to improve conflict-management skills within dating relationships. However, it also includes social norms marketing and activities to shift the social norms of the school to increase peer-based social sanctions for abusive dating behaviors (Foshee et al., 2005). The program includes lessons to define caring relationships, recognize and respond to emotions, and communicate respectfully; a play about dating abuse to be watched during a school assembly; a poster contest; and support materials to be distributed to students' parents. It was evaluated in rural North Carolina schools, and the evaluation showed that students who received the intervention were less likely to perpetrate sexual violence at all follow-up time points (Foshee et al., 2005). The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness classified Safe Dates as a promising program.

Shifting Boundaries

The Shifting Boundaries program was designed for and evaluated with middle school students. It includes two components (classroom and schoolwide). The classroom curriculum included lessons about gender roles, how to set healthy boundaries in intimate relationships, the definition of healthy relationships, and bystander intervention. But the evaluation revealed that only the schoolwide component effectively prevented sexual assault perpetration. That component had three elements: (1) All students signed an agreement to respect one another's boundaries; (2) staff hung posters in school buildings designed to increase awareness of sexual assault and provide resources for reporting; and (3) students completed a mapping exercise to identify areas on their school campus that they perceived as risky. School administrators used these maps to plan for increased surveillance by faculty and security staff. The evaluation included 30 public middle schools in New York City, which consisted of 117 classrooms and 2,655 sixth- and seventh-grade students. For middle school students who were included in the schoolwide intervention, there was a 47-percent reduction in the probability of perpetrating a sexual assault (compared with those who did not receive the intervention) (Taylor et al., 2011). Given the distribution of sexual assaults in this age group, the sexual assault measure included sexual contact assaults only (for example, unwanted touching of private parts). The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Crime Solutions clearinghouse categorizes Shifting Boundaries as a promising program. It is not reviewed in the Penn State Clearinghouse.

Perpetration Prevention with Men

Given that the overwhelming majority of sexual assault perpetrators are male, some prevention activities target men only to more efficiently reach a higher-risk population.

Coaching Boys into Men

Coaching Boys into Men is a coach-delivered curriculum that teaches male high school athletes that violence against women and girls does not signal strength. The program includes a 60-minute training for coaches, who are then provided with a resource kit (for example, scenarios, strategies) to support short discussions with boys about healthy relationships, dating violence, and sexual assault. In an evaluation that randomly assigned 16 high schools to either receive the Coaching Boys into Men program or not, results were mixed (Miller et al., 2012). Athletes who were part of the program were more likely to positively intervene when they witnessed common abusive behavior, but the developers did not detect any change in gender-equitable attitudes, ability to recognize abuse when it occurs, or domestic violence perpetration (Miller et al., 2012). When the developers followed up with boys one year after the program was delivered, boys who had been exposed to the program were less likely to report having perpetrated dating violence and were less likely to report going along with or laughing with peers who were abusive to women (Miller et al., 2013). Coaching Boys into Men is not reviewed in the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State or by NIJ Crime Solutions. NIJ Crime Solutions excluded the program because of methodological or interpretation problems with the evaluations.

The Men's Program

The Men's Program is an all-male education program typically delivered by male facilitators. The training includes a guided discussion of sexual assault, a video interview with a male sexual assault victim designed to increase victim empathy, education about how to help a survivor of sexual assault, and suggested skills to prevent perpetration. Evaluations showed that, compared with men who didn't attend the program, men who attended the program were less likely to endorse attitudes that justify rape and to say that they would sexually assault someone in the future if they could be certain that they wouldn't be punished (Foubert, 2000; Foubert and Marriott, 1997; Foubert and Masin, 2012). These improvements were maintained for at least seven months, but the effect of the program on reporting of actually perpetrating sexual coercion or assault was not significant (Foubert, 2000). On the basis of methodological problems with the evaluations, the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State rated program effectiveness as "unclear." The Men's Program was screened out from review by the NIJ Crime Solutions clearinghouse because of methodological or interpretation problems.

Social Norms Marketing

Social norms are the expectations that a group has about how its members should behave. For example, one group might allow or even encourage sexualized comments about women in the group, whereas another group might frown upon the behavior. In some cases, individuals can misperceive the norms of their group, and this misperception can guide their behavior. For example, nearly half of college students refrain completely from alcohol use, but these abstaining students are not visible to those engaged in the drinking culture, and most college students overestimate how many of their peers drink and drink heavily. Social campaigns using posters to teach students the real cultural norm (that is, the fact that most students refrain from using or responsibly use alcohol) have successfully shifted students' attitudes and reduced drinking behavior (Perkins, 2003). More recently, social norms marketing campaigns have been developed that attempt to shift group norms about sexual violence (World Health Organization, 2019). There is suggestive evidence that this approach might be helpful, but no strong evaluations have been conducted.

Know Your Power

The Know Your Power campaign saturated a college campus with four poster designs that portrayed common dating and sexual violence scenarios and included a written instruction to intervene (Potter, Stapleton, and Moynihan, 2008). At the end of the campaign, 78 percent of students reported seeing the posters, and the developers compared outcomes among students who said that they saw the posters with those who did not see (or did not remember seeing) the posters (Potter et al., 2009). Compared with students who did not see the posters, students who remembered seeing the posters were more likely to say that they were interested in learning more about campus sexual assault and were more likely to get involved in sexual assault prevention activities on their campus (Potter et al., 2009). The Know Your Power campaign has since been folded into the Bringing in the Bystander program (Moynihan et al., 2015), which is reviewed below. The Penn State Clearinghouse rated the evidence for the Know Your Power program as unclear. The NIJ Crime Solutions clearinghouse has not reviewed it.

A Man Respects a Woman

Limited research shows that college men tend to underestimate the extent to which other men value sexual consent and would be willing to intervene to prevent a sexual assault (Fabiano et al., 2003). The A Man Respects a Woman social norms marketing campaign is based in part on this work and used posters, flyers, and a theater performance to spread the following accurate norms to college men:

  • Nine out of ten men stop immediately after their date says "no" to sex.
  • Three out of four men disapprove of men who pressure dates to drink alcohol as a strategy to have sex with them.
  • Most men think that talking about sex can help confirm consent and do not think that it "kills the mood."

Two years after the campaign was implemented, fewer men believed that their peers would have sex with an intoxicated date, and more believed that their peers would stop sexual activity if asked (Bruce, 2002). However, it is still unclear whether these attitude changes translate into behavioral changes. The campaign is not included in the Penn State Clearinghouse or in NIJ Crime Solutions.

Bystander Intervention

Bystander intervention trainings are designed to encourage peers to intervene safely to prevent a potential assault from occurring (for example, speaking up when a friend tries to lead an intoxicated woman away from a party) (Banyard, Plante, and Moynihan, 2004). Although prevention activities that rely on bystander approaches to sexual assault prevention have begun to be widely disseminated, evidence on their effectiveness is mixed (DeGue et al., 2014; Katz and Moore, 2013). A recent review of bystander-education programs identified 12 evaluations of bystander-education programs for college students conducted between 1997 and 2011 (Katz and Moore, 2013). The authors concluded that, although the approaches increased participants' belief that they would help someone if they saw someone at risk, the approaches did not reduce the likelihood of sexual assault (Katz and Moore, 2013).

Green Dot

Green Dot was designed for high school and college students and has been adapted by the developer for use in the military. It is designed to reduce social norms that condone violence, increase the likelihood that people will intervene to stop sexual assault, and reduce sexual violence. Participants learn how to recognize risky scenarios, how to change the social norms in their communities to reduce tolerance of violence, and how to safely intervene in risky situations. The program uses interactive discussions, videos, and role-playing to engage students. Several evaluations by the developer have shown that students who attend Green Dot are less likely to experience sexual assault, and one evaluation showed a reduction in sexual assault perpetration (Coker, Cook-Craig, et al., 2011; Coker, Fisher, et al., 2015; Coker, Bush, et al., 2016; Coker, Bush, Cook-Craig, et al., 2017; Coker, Bush, Brancato, et al., 2019). The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State classified Green Dot as a promising program, which means that a high-quality evaluation has shown that the program produces positive outcomes that last for at least six months but that this positive result has not yet been replicated by an independent research team. The NIJ Crime Solutions clearinghouse also categorizes Green Dot as a promising program.

Bringing in the Bystander

Bringing in the Bystander was developed to teach college students about the consequences of sexual assault, how to identify situations that increase risk for sexual assault, and how to safely intervene when they encounter a situation in which someone could be at risk for sexual assault. During the program, each participant role-plays interactions, makes plans for how they will intervene, and signs a pledge to be an active bystander (that is, someone who intervenes when they see a situation that they think could be a sexual assault precursor). Evaluations by the developers have shown that participants feel more confident about intervening in the future and are more likely to say that they will help if they encounter a risky situation (Banyard, Moynihan, and Crossman, 2009; Banyard, Moynihan, and Plante, 2007; Cares et al., 2015; Moynihan et al., 2015). The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State classified Bringing in the Bystander as promising. The NIJ Crime Solutions clearinghouse also categorizes Bringing in the Bystander as a promising program based on at least one high-quality evaluation.

Women's Empowerment Training

Women's empowerment training combines self-defense training with skill training to recognize sexual risk and overcome social and cultural barriers to protecting oneself. The original program is Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act (EAAA). Variants of the program exist (for example, Flip the Script), but they are so similar in content that we review EAAA only.

Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act

EAAA is a workshop for college women that provides training in how to assess sexual risk in intimate relationships, overcome barriers to quickly acknowledging that risk when it is present, and use self-defense strategies to protect against sexual assaults. The four-session program also includes a session on healthy sexual communication. One year after participating in EAAA, attendees had a lower risk of having experienced attempted and completed rape than women who had not been exposed to the program had (Senn et al., 2015). EAAA is the only sexual assault prevention program categorized by the NIJ Crime Solutions clearinghouse as effective. It is not included in the Penn State Clearinghouse.

Alcohol Misuse Prevention

Rather than building curricula around sexual assault directly, some researchers have begun to explore whether they could instead target the contributing factors of sexual assault among young adults, including the misuse of alcohol (Farris and Hepner, 2014; Testa and Livingston, 2009). Robust research evidence shows that heavy drinking predicts both sexual assault perpetration and victimization (Abbey, McAuslan, and Ross, 1998; Abbey, Ross, et al., 1996; Brecklin and Ullman, 2002; Mohler-Kuo et al., 2004; Parks et al., 2008; Testa and Hoffman, 2012; Testa, Livingston, and Collins, 2000; Ullman, Karabatsos, and Koss, 1999; Zawacki et al., 2003; Tjaden and Thoennes, 2006; Combs-Lane and Smith, 2002; Greene and Navarro, 1998; Norris, Nurius, and Dimeff, 1996). It could be that a prevention activity that reduced alcohol misuse might also have downstream effects on sexual assault. Although there are established interventions for college students that prevent escalation of alcohol use and heavy alcohol use (Carey, Scott-Sheldon, and Carey, 2007; Cronce and Larimer, 2011; Scott-Sheldon et al., 2014; Carey et al., 2007; Miller et al., 2013; National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2004), very few of these programs have been evaluated for their effects on sexual assault (Gilmore, Lewis, and George, 2015; Testa et al., 2010; Tait and Lenton, 2015). Below, we review one exception: Parent-Based Intervention (PBI). The authors provide evidence that a specific parent-based alcohol misuse prevention program successfully reduced sexual assaults during the first year of college. More generally, this result suggests that other alcohol misuse prevention activities might also have downstream effects on sexual assault.

Parent-Based Intervention (PBI)

PBI is a program that serves mother–daughter pairs and is timed for delivery in the summer before the daughter begins her freshman year of college. It is a relatively simple and low-cost intervention that involves sending the mother a handbook about college drinking. The handbook includes information about the prevalence of alcohol misuse on college campuses, effective communication strategies to engage daughters in conversations about college drinking, and encouragements to mothers to continue talking about and monitoring alcohol use after the daughter leaves home to attend college. The developers conducted a randomized controlled trial to test the effect of PBI on daughters' risk of sexual victimization during their first year of college (Testa et al., 2010). The results showed that freshman women whose mothers had received the handbook had lower rates of heavy drinking during their first year of college and were also less likely to have been sexually assaulted during their first year of college (Testa et al., 2010). It could be that, by reducing the number of days of heavy drinking, college women were less vulnerable to potential perpetrators in their social environments. The program was able to achieve this success without mentioning sexual assault in its intervention materials. PBI has not been reviewed by the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State or by NIJ Crime Solutions.

Table 2: Summary of Sexual Assault Prevention Activities, by Category

Prevention Activity Target Audience Participation Required Curriculum Outcomes
Healthy Relationships
Safe Dates 8th- and 9th-grade students 10 sessions
  • Motivational school assembly
  • Poster contest
  • Lessons on caring relationships, emotion regulation, and respectful communication
Students who attended were less likely to self-report sexual violence perpetration at follow-up.
Shifting Boundaries Middle-school students 6 sessions
  • School-wide component: Signed pledge to respect boundaries, awareness-raising posters throughout the building, student-led mapping exercise to identify areas on their campus where they felt unsafe
  • Classroom component: Six-session curriculum on gender roles, setting healthy boundaries in intimate relationships, and bystander intervention
  • Evaluation of 117 classrooms nested in 30 New York City public schools
  • Reduction in sexual assault perpetration was linked to the school-wide intervention, not the classroom component.
Perpetration Prevention with Men
Coaching Boys into Men High school boys in team sports 60-minute training for coaches, coaches facilitate brief conversations with athletes Resource kit for coaches includes information and conversation prompts on healthy relationships, dating violence, and sexual violence
  • Boys attending schools with the intervention were more likely to positively intervene when they witnessed common abusive behavior.
  • Positive findings might have been due to fewer high-risk boys being included in the intervention group follow-up. Subsequent studies did not find the same positive results.
The Men's Program College men One session, 1–2 hours Education on how to help a survivor, suggested skills to avoid perpetration
  • In early evaluations, compared with nonattendees, men who attended the program were less likely to justify rape and rated their likelihood of perpetration as lower.
  • Effects faded or disappeared with time over follow-up.
  • Failures to replicate have led many reviewers to classify the program as ineffective.
Social Norms Marketing
Know Your Power College students Brief exposure to posters 4 posters that portray common dating and sexual violence scenarios with written instruction to intervene. Posted at high density across campus. 78 percent recalled seeing posters. Relative to those who did not see posters, those who did were more interested in learning about sexual assault and getting involved in prevention.
A Man Respects a Woman College men who underestimate the extent to which other men value sexual consent and would intervene to prevent sexual assault. Attendance at theater performance plus brief exposure to posters Posters display accurate group norms (for example, 9 out of 10 men stop immediately if their date says "no" to sex). Compared with baseline, 2 years after campaign:
  • Fewer men believed that their peers would have sex with an intoxicated date.
  • More men believed that their peers would stop sexual activity if asked.
Bystander Intervention
Green Dot High school students, college students, airmen, and communities 4- to 6-hour training for socially influential community members, 60- to 90-minute workshops for others
  • Increase positive social norms that are incompatible with violence
  • Increase recognition of high-risk situations
  • Teach comfortable and safe intervention strategies
  • Attendees increase their confidence, willingness, and intent to intervene.
  • Some evidence of decreased victimization and perpetration on college campuses and high schools that implement the program was found.
Bringing in the Bystander College students in single-gender groups; also evaluated in the Army 3 sessions, 4.5 hours of contact time
  • Sexual violence psychoeducation
  • Strategies to identify high-risk situations
  • Safe intervention strategies
  • Instruction on how support a friend who has been assaulted
  • Attendees were more confident about intervening and more likely to say that they will intervene if they encounter a risky situation.
Women's Empowerment
Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge, Act (EAAA) College women 4-session workshop
  • Risk recognition
  • Overcoming cultural barriers to quickly labeling and acknowledging that risk
  • Self-defense strategies
  • Cognitive rehearsal of use of self-defense strategies with valued partners
At one-year follow-up, participants had a lower risk of having experienced attempted and completed rape.
Alcohol Misuse Prevention
Parent-Based Intervention Matriculating college freshmen women Parent guide sent to students' mothers the summer before matriculation Guide includes instruction on prevalence of alcohol misuse on college campuses and effective strategies to communicate with adult children about drinking. Encourages continued parental monitoring after daughter leaves home.
  • Participants had lower rates of heavy episodic drinking.
  • The rate of participants experiencing alcohol-facilitated rape dropped by 50 percent.

Finding Evidence-Based Sexual Assault Prevention Activities

Many resources exist to help you find prevention activities that have been evaluated and have supportive evidence. The following resources aggregate information about evidence-based practices and programs and are a good starting point for finding prevention activities that might be appropriate for the needs you are targeting.

  1. The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State is a searchable catalog of programs to strengthen military families. It can be searched for programs that address such topics as relationships, sexual assault, alcohol and drug use, or life stress. Programs can be filtered from the strongest evidence of effectiveness ("effective randomized control trial") to "unclear" or "ineffective." If you have questions or need help, Clearinghouse staff are available via live chat on the website from 0900 to 1700 EST/EDT, over the phone at 1-877-382-9185, or via email ( If you are unsure where to start looking, we recommend the clearinghouse's Program Selection Guide as a first step.
  2. The Violence Prevention Effectiveness Studies Registry provides a searchable database of abstracts of published studies that measure the effectiveness of interventions to prevent violence. You can filter your search by programs that are rated "recommended" based on their evidence of effectiveness. Additional filters include type of violence, region, year, and keywords. This registry is maintained by a collaboration between the Public Health Institute, the World Health Organization, and CDC.
  3. The National Institute of Justice Crime Solutions is a clearinghouse of programs and practices for reducing crime, rated by effectiveness. Programs and practices address a broad range of criminal justice, juvenile justice, and crime victim service outcomes. You can filter by evidence rating, topic, setting, age, and other factors.
  4. Culture of Respect is a clearinghouse supported by Student Affairs Administrations in Higher Education. It is designed to help colleges and universities comply with the Cleary Act requirement to offer students prevention programing. It includes a curated list of theory-driven and evidence-based sexual assault prevention programs. Programs are rated as "supported by evidence," "promising direction," or "emerging" and can be searched by format (for example, online, in person), target audience (for example, undergraduates, faculty), and program name.
  5. The Community Guide is intended to help organizations select interventions that improve health and prevent disease in a variety of community settings. To view the lists of programs, start with the Topics drop-down menu. Topics include excessive alcohol consumption, violence, physical activity, worksite health, and mental health. Each topic section lists programs evaluated by the Community Preventive Service Task Force of CDC and its assessment of the continuum of evidence ("recommended," "insufficient evidence," or "recommended against").

Didn't find a prevention activity that meets your needs among these resources? The Center for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas Community Toolbox curates an extensive list of databases for evidence-based prevention activities and best practices.

Principles of Effective Prevention

When a prevention activity has not been evaluated, it is sometimes possible to assess it according to how well it adheres to certain general principles of strong prevention practices (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2003; Nation et al., 2003). These principles are that the prevention activity

  • is based on theory and research. The prevention activity should have a scientific justification. Sometimes intuitive approaches are actually harmful.
  • promotes positive relationships.
  • is appropriately timed in development. That is, it is implemented at a time (developmentally) that can have maximal impact in a participant's life.
  • is comprehensive. It includes multiple components and affects multiple settings to address a wide range of risk and protective factors. Combining two or more populations—such as individual service members and their families—can be more effective than targeting just one population alone.
  • uses varied teaching methods. It uses multiple teaching methods, including active, skills-based components to build skills in addition to increasing knowledge. Examples include peer discussion groups and role-playing that allow for active involvement in learning about and reinforcing skills.
  • reflects the culture of participants. It takes into account cultural beliefs and practices of specific groups, as well as community norms.
  • uses evaluation to assess impact and effects.
  • employs well-trained staff.
  • has a sufficient dose. Participants need to be exposed to enough of the activity for it to have an effect. Prevention activities should be long term with repeated interventions (boosters) to reinforce the original prevention goals. When adapting a prevention activity to match community norms or differing cultural requirements, core elements of the original research-based intervention should be retained: structure (how the prevention activity is organized and constructed), content (the information, skills, and strategies of the prevention activity), and delivery (how the prevention activity is implemented).

Evaluating the Level of Evidence of a Prevention Activity

Determining how much evidence exists for prevention activities can be difficult. CDC has a web portal that provides extensive resources, which we summarize here. These resources are applied to violence prevention but could be used in multiple domains.

There are six areas that CDC recommends considering when making a determination of evidence:

  • effect (Does the prevention activity get positive outcomes?)
  • internal validity (How much confidence is there that the research shows that it was only the prevention activity that caused the results?)
  • research design (Some designs, such as randomized controlled trials, yield stronger evidence than other types.)
  • independent replication (Did different people also test the prevention activity and find the same positive result?)
  • implementation guidance (Are there good instructions on how to do the prevention activity?)
  • external and ecological validity (Is the prevention activity effective in a wide range of real-world settings?).

The web portal has an interactive tool that can help assess evidence. You could use that tool or just keep the above questions in mind when looking at various prevention activities. Once you are done reviewing the strength of evidence, try to choose one or more activities that are as close to being well supported or promising as possible.

Examples of Prevention Activity Adaptations

Another important part of selecting a suitable presentation activity involves considering how well it fits with your target population, community, and organization. In some cases, minor adaptations can improve the fit; in other cases, a different prevention activity with a better fit should be selected. Table 3 offers general guidance on the types of adaptations that can be made freely (green-light adaptations); those that should include consultation with an expert in the prevention activity, like the developer (yellow-light adaptations); and adaptations that should not be made (red-light adaptations).

Table 3: Types of Adaptations

Green-Light Adaptations

  • Updating or customizing statistics and other information included in the curriculum or handouts
  • Adjusting the location of the prevention activity to one that is familiar and convenient for participants
  • Adding debriefing or processing questions
  • Making activities more interactive or appealing to different learning styles
  • Customizing written documents (for example, the use of wording that is more reflective of the prevention activity participants being served)

Yellow-Light Adaptations

  • Changing the order of sessions or sequence of activities
  • Adding activities to reinforce learning
  • Adding activities to address additional topics
  • Replacing or supplementing videos (for example, with other videos)
  • Using other models or tools that teach the same skill
  • Implementing the prevention activity with a population (for example, an ethnic or cultural group) for which there is less evidence
  • Replacing activities
  • Adapting a prevention activity to the military that has no prior use in the military

Red-Light Adaptations

  • Shortening a prevention activity (for example, deleting an activity or a whole session)
  • Reducing or eliminating activities that allow participants to personalize risk material
  • Reducing or eliminating opportunities for skill practice
  • Eliminating topics
  • Contradicting prevention activity goals
  • Replacing interactive activities with lectures or individual work


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  • Fabiano, Patricia M., H. Wesley Perkins, Alan Berkowitz, Jeff Linkenbach, and Christopher Stark, "Engaging Men as Social Justice Allies in Ending Violence Against Women: Evidence for a Social Norms Approach," Journal of American College Health, Vol. 52, No. 3, 2003, pp. 105–112.
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  • Foshee, Vangie A., Karl E. Bauman, Susan T. Ennett, Chirayath Suchindran, Thad Benefield, and G. Fletcher Linder, "Assessing the Effects of the Dating Violence Prevention Program ‘Safe Dates' Using Random Coefficient Regression Modeling," Prevention Science, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2005, p. 245.
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