Step 3 Identify and Select Candidate SAPA with Evidence of Effectiveness

GTO Step 3 guides you through the assessment of prevention activities to identify the most effective ones for addressing the priority problems and goals and desired outcomes you identified in GTO Step 2.


  • Using an evidence-based, or research-based, SAPA
    • increases the likelihood of achieving goals and desired outcomes
    • promotes confidence among leadership and other stakeholders that you are using the best approach possible
    • usually comes with many features that newly created, untested approaches do not have, such as tools to track outcomes.


  • Gather information and become familiar with SAPA that are candidates for your site, including the evidence of their effectiveness at addressing your priority sexual assault problem and obtaining results similar to your desired outcomes.
  • There are many sources you can review where this work has been done already, and colleagues who have used a SAPA you are interested in can be a valuable source of information. But make sure to ask about evaluation results.
  • See Types of Sexual Assault Prevention Activities in the Military: Finding and Assessing Effective Prevention Activities for details about specific SAPA for six different categories of sexual assault prevention with some evidence of effectiveness.
  • Weigh the evidence and synthesize what you learn, only selecting SAPA that actually target your priority problem and have obtained positive results. You'll continue the assessment process in GTO Steps 4 and 5.
  • The longer GTO guide has a tool—Evidence Synthesis tool—that could help you complete this step. You can download a .zip file that contains all of the tools.

Key Points

  • In the case of sexual assault prevention in the military, there are no "magic bullet" prevention activities. Some lack any evidence of effectiveness and should not be considered. Unfortunately, as of 2018, no off-the-shelf SAPA had strong evidence to support its effectiveness and represented a perfect fit for the military population, but there are many types of prevention activities that do have some evidence.
  • Avoid SAPA that lack the key ingredients of effective prevention—e.g., comprehensive, curriculum-varied, skill-building teaching methods and well-trained staff. One-shot lectures or PowerPoint-based presentations do not contain the key ingredients of effective prevention.
  • GTO Step 3 aligns with "development of a comprehensive approach" in the PPoA prevention process.

Fill Out SAPA Overview

In the SAPA Overview Worksheet (.docx), enter the SAPA associated with each desired outcome in column 4. You can update it later.

Linking GTO Steps

  • In GTO Steps 4 and 5, you'll consider how well each candidate SAPA you selected in Step 3 fits with your site, community, target population, and stakeholders and whether you have the capacity needed to implement it.

GTO Step 3 Resources