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Assessment

"The SPF Process" by Center on the Family. All rights reserved.

Assessment

When trying to address problems in our communities, it is important that we begin by attempting to get a full understanding of the problem. If we start to design solutions without this full understanding, then we run the risk of missing something important or developing ineffective strategies for change. In the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) model, this first step, in which communities attempt to fully understand a target problem, is called "assessment" or "needs assessment."

During this stage, staff and community members systematically gather information about the target problem. For instance, it is good to try to understand how many people in the community experience the problem, what factors might indicate a higher risk for developing the problem, and whether the problem is a symptom of some larger issue that also needs to be addressed.

Other things that are important to consider when trying to understand community problems are:

  • Frequency: How often does the problem occur?
  • Duration: How long has the problem lasted?
  • Scope: How widespread is the problem?
  • Severity: How much does the problem impact the functioning of individuals, families, and communities?
  • Equity: Does the problem impact some groups more than others? Does it represent an issue of inequality or injustice in a community?
  • Perception: Does the community see the issue as a problem? Do the different parts of a community agree on the definition of the problem?

In addition to gathering information about the magnitude of the problem and its potential causes, a needs assessment also attempts to gather information about how a community might be able to best address the problem. What tools already exist in the community and how might they be used to address the issue? What additional tools are needed to address the problem? Who should to be included in a collaboration to address the problem?

Often social problems, such as substance abuse, are very complicated issues to address because they are influenced by so many different factors. These factors include individual choices and behaviors, family interactions, school and peer influences, community norms and practices, and public laws and policies (among others). Because these problems impact whole communities and because whole communities can have an impact on these problems, it is often important for many different sectors within a community to collaborate together in their attempts to address the problem.

Exploring about how a community perceives the problem is, therefore, often very important. The SPF process emphasizes the need for the community as a whole to engage in the systematic assessment process. This means bringing together researchers, policymakers, program providers, and community members to collaborate together in order to gather information about the problem. In this way a community can develop a shared definition of the problem, a unified understanding of the important factors that impact the problem, and can then develop a comprehensive plan to address the problem as a team.

Tools

 

References

Berkowitz, B. (2013). Chapter 3. Section 5: Analyzing Community Problems. Retrieved from The Community Tool Box: http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/section_1017.htm
 
Dorn, H. (1951). Methods of measuring incidence and prevalence of disease. American Journal of Public Health, 41, 271-78.
 
SAMHSA. (2015, October 1). Criteria for analyzing assessment data. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/capt/tools-learning-resources/criteria-analyzing-assessment-data
 
SAMHSA. (2015, September 29). Step 1: Assess needs. Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/capt/applying-strategic-prevention-framework/step1-assess-needs
 
Sheppard, K., and Langevin, D. (2003). A framework for understand ‘evidence’ in preventions research and programs. Prevention Science, 4(3), 137-153.

September 2020

Sep 10 Thu
Maui Opioid Series Part 1: The History of the Opioid Epidemic

This virtual training, "The History of the Opioid Epidemic," is part one of a four-part opioid series. This training will inform participants on the opioid timeline in the US and discuss events that led to the "perfect storm" that created the opioid epidemic. The training will present the burden of opioid use in the wider US, and will also present local data on opioid use in Hawai‘i.

Location

Zoom

Sep 16 Wed
Maui Opioid Series Part 2: Opioid Overdose Prevention & Response

This FREE virtual training, "Taking Action on Opioids," is part two of a four-part opioid training series.
This training will focus on ways communities can take action to address the opioid crisis. The training will discuss ways communities can collaborate across sectors to prevent and reduce the harmful consequences of opioid misuse in the community. The training will also discuss effective strategies to address the problem, and local networks and resources already available.

Location

Zoom

Sep 17 Thu
Maui Opioid Series Part 3: Taking Action on Opioids

This FREE virtual training, "Taking Action on Opioids," is part two of a four-part opioid training series.
This training will focus on ways communities can take action to address the opioid crisis. The training will discuss ways communities can collaborate across sectors to prevent and reduce the harmful consequences of opioid misuse in the community. The training will also discuss effective strategies to address the problem, and local networks and resources already available.

Location

Zoom

Sep 24 Thu
Maui Opioid Series Part 4: Non-Opioid Alternatives to Pain Management

This FREE virtual training, "Non-Opioid Alternatives to Pain Management" is part four of a four-part opioid training series.
This training will explore the various evidence-based non-opioid alternatives to pain management recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most of the training will focus on non-pharmacological options for that have evidence to support their effectiveness at helping individuals manage pain. Participants will learn about the risks associated with the use of opioids for pain and identify alternative treatments supported by the CDC.

Location

Zoom