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SPR News – May 14, 2004

Dear SPR Member:

In a few weeks we will all meet in Quebec City for SPR’s 12th Annual Meeting. In anticipation of our meeting, I want to update you on SPR’s progress this past year related to three strategic goals established by the SPR board for advancing prevention science.

First, while numerous efficacy trials of preventive interventions have been conducted, the SPR board sees a need for increased funding for studies on prevention effectiveness and dissemination. Research must discover how to effectively disseminate efficacious preventive interventions to diverse American communities. There is a great need to expand efficacious interventions to the level of effectiveness trials and to understand what conditions (community context, level of implementation quality, etc.) are necessary for interventions to maintain their effectiveness in broader applications. Prevention research should increase understanding of systems issues such as how communities make decisions regarding prevention. Studies should develop and test models that include infrastructure for assessment, training, and technical assistance to assist communities in implementing evidence-base models of preventive intervention. These rigorous trials of prevention effectiveness and of methods for disseminating effective preventive interventions will require significant resources because they often involve multiple communities and funding for preventive interventions themselves.

This year, representatives of the SPR board met with the directors of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and with representatives of NIMH and NIAAA to encourage these organizations to create opportunities for collaborative funding of effectiveness and dissemination trials across institutes and agencies. Our meetings have been positive and productive. The leaders of NIDA and CSAP are eager to find ways to combine their funds to answer important prevention effectiveness and dissemination questions. They have invited SPR members to participate in meetings to discuss specific opportunities for braiding funding for prevention services and research. I am hopeful that these conversations will lead to increased resources for effectiveness and dissemination trials of preventive interventions.

Our second major strategic goal has been to develop standards for the level of rigor required of studies to allow confident conclusions about the efficacy and effectiveness of preventive interventions. It important that prevention researchers agree on the scientific standards that must be met in efficacy and effectiveness trials if prevention policies, programs or actions are to be judged to be tested and efficacious or effective. Toward that end, this year an SPR committee, chaired by Brian Flay, has developed, and the board has adopted, a set of standards for efficacy, effectiveness, and dissemination trials. In Quebec City, you will receive SPR’s newly adopted Standard of Evidence for Efficacy, Effectiveness and Dissemination Trials. We believe that these standards will help those engaged in making lists of tested and effective programs to use consistent, appropriate, and rigorous standards in evaluating prevention policies and programs. This spring, we have shared these SPR standards in meetings with leaders at NIDA, NIMH, CSAP, NIMH, and NIAAA. We hope that these SPR standards will help inform the work of federal agencies currently seeking to develop standards for determining the effectiveness of programs and will inform the work of those making lists of tested and effective prevention policies and programs.

SPR’s third strategic goal is to promote the use of epidemiologic data systems at state and local levels to measure trends in young peoples’ well being and in factors that influence development. We think that states and communities should periodically assess drug use, violence, school achievement and related outcomes in their youth and young adult populations as well as the risk and protective factors that predict these outcomes, both to guide local prevention work and to assess progress and problems in achieving desired outcomes. This year, SPR has developed a monograph, Community-Monitoring Systems: Tracking and Improving the Well-Being of America’s Children and Adolescents, with illustrations from a variety of states and communities describing the benefits and uses of community monitoring systems. You will receive a copy of the monograph in Quebec City. We hope the monograph will encourage more widespread use of community monitoring systems to provide epidemiological data on risk, protection and young people’s health and behavior outcomes.

We have shared the monograph with NIDA and CSAP and are exploring the possibility of co-sponsoring a meeting with these agencies in the fall of 2004 to discuss with key state and federal decision makers the promise and prospects for developing community monitoring systems across the US.

It has truly been a pleasure to work with the SPR board this year to advance our strategic goals. I look forward to continuing progress and to seeing you in Quebec City.

J. David Hawkins, President

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