Why Most Evidence-based Prevention Programs Are a Challenge


Most organizations and professionals agree that evidence-based programs (EBPs) are critical to ensuring positive outcomes and wise use of scarce agency resources.  

However, there are five key reasons most EBPs are also very challenging to implement.  They include: 

1. The time required for implementation. 

    Often, evidence-based prevention programs take weeks, months or even years to fully implement.  Since most organizations and agencies are time-strapped, this makes implementing most EBIs impractical if not impossible.  Organizations like schools, for example, find it extremely difficult to provide multi-session EBPs within their already overloaded schedules and multiple demands for their time.

    2. The time and expense it takes to get trained to provide them. 

    Most evidence-based programs, including those for preventing substance use, require training to learn how to implement them with fidelity and effectiveness.  Initial program implementer training can sometimes last two, three or even five-days to complete.  Training of trainer workshops are oftentimes even longer than program implementer training.  Add to this the financial cost of training and travel to get to a training site, and most EBP training ends up being a costly investment. 

    3. Lack of interest in addressing substance use prevention. 

      The lack of interest in substance use prevention occurs at multiple levels.  Youth become less interested in the topic of substance use as they reach their teen and young adult years.  Parents are oftentimes uninterested because they believe their child, teen or young adult is not among those at risk for use or harm.  And lastly, many organizations and communities are in denial regarding the widespread nature of substance use or how it affects their youth, and hold the perception that if they try to openly address substance use it will signal to others that they have a unique problem other similar organizations and communities do not have.     

      4. Continuation of program costs over time. 

        The cost of providing EBPs include purchasing curricula or program manuals, as well as materials used by participating youth and parents.  These later program materials usually require repeated purchases for each new group of participating youth and/or parents.  In addition, some EBPs charge for materials or services to promote and even evaluate the program.  Lastly, other EBPs require annual license fees to continue to use the program and receive program support. 

        5. Demands for collecting data to assess program fidelity and efficacy. 

          Implementers or providers of EBPs are frequently required to collect data to ensure the program is being implemented with fidelity.  These data collection requirements can sometimes add up to many hours of staff time not only for data collection, but also data entry and analysis.  In some cases, EBPs even require following up with participating youth or parents to collect data to assess program fidelity or outcomes. 

          While the above identified factors make implementing most EBPs a challenge, not all EBPs pose the same problems. 

          For example, the EBPs provided by Prevention Plus Wellness (PPW), including SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness for youth and InShape Prevention Plus Wellness for college students and other young adults were designed to overcome the aforementioned challenges.     

          First, both the SPORT and InShape PPW programs are just a single-session in length.  This makes them practical even in the most time-strapped organizations and settings, including schools, health clinics, youth groups, etc.  Program options allow for extending program length if desired. 

          Second, training workshops to implement the SPORT and InShape Prevention Plus Wellness programs are just 5-hours, and training of trainers’ workshops are only 3 more hours in length.  In addition, the online training workshops eliminate trainer travel costs, and by hosting a regional or state workshop training costs are dramatically reduced or even eliminated completely.     

          Third, Prevention Plus Wellness programs are more interesting and marketable to youth, parents, providers, organizations and communities because they promote health and fitness-enhancing behaviors and positive identity of youth and young adults.  In addition, both SPORT and InShape PPW are not only proven to prevent and reduce substance use, they also significantly increase healthy habits like physical activity among participating young people. 

          Fourth, Prevention Plus Wellness programs involve no additional costs beyond the initial program purchase.  That is because each PPW program comes with a digital download of reproducible program materials which eliminates the need for buying more program implementation and evaluation materials.  In addition, we provide free program implementation and evaluation services. 

          Fifth, the demands for data collection to assess program fidelity and effectiveness are minimal with the SPORT and InShape Prevention Plus Wellness programs.  In fact, existing screening and feedback surveys, along with a free Excel spreadsheet and evaluation assistance, permit providers to easily and quickly conduct an immediate fidelity and pre-post-program outcome evaluation. 

          In conclusion, EBPs provide the best chance of ensuring your prevention efforts will result in positive outcomes for your youth, families and communities.  The main decision is to choose an EBP that is also cost-effective and practical for your setting and youth population.

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