Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF)

SAMHSA's Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) is a 5-step planning process that guides the selection, implementation, and evaluation of effective and evidence-based, culturally appropriate, and sustainable prevention activities. Its effectiveness depends on a clear understanding of community needs and the involvement of community members in all stages of the planning process. The SPF is designed to help coalitions build the infrastructure needed for effective and sustainable prevention.

The SPF process is quite similar to the Comprehensive Gang Model developed by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).

All five steps are guided by the principles of cultural competence and sustainability. Each step contains key milestones and products that are essential to the validity of the process. Since it focuses on systems development, the SPF reflects a public health or community-based approach to delivering effective prevention. A brief summary of the process, as well as links to more information on each step, may be found below.

How the SPF Evolved

In the past, funds were allocated to community partnerships to address local substance abuse problems. Through these funds, successful local coalitions were built, but effective strategies and practices were not always chosen. In the late 1990s, a push began to use model programs and practices that met a certain threshold of evidence. Coalitions tended to use favorite programs without a link to the needs of the own communities the programs failed to produce the same outcomes as attained in the original research settings.

It was then decided to combine efforts and emphasize embedding best practices in the context of the community. CSAP developed the SPF as a road map to help communities accomplish this. This process is described in the document, Identifying and Selecting Evidence-Based Approaches: A Guidance Document for the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant Program.

The Features of the SPF

The SPF has four distinctive features:

  • It is driven by the concept of outcome-based prevention. The SPF drives people toward defining the specific results they expect to accomplish through their prevention plan. Outcome-based prevention starts by looking at consequences of use, then identifying the patterns of consumption that produce these consequences.
  • It focuses on population-level change. Under the SPF, a community may implement a range of programs and practices which could collectively produce more broad-scale change. Population-level change also forces practitioners to look at the constellation of factors, across related systems, which influence substance use.
  • It focuses on prevention across the lifespan. The SPF challenges prevention practitioners to look at substance abuse among all populations, including those which are often overlooked.
  • It emphasizes data-driven decision-making. States, jurisdictions, tribes and communities are expected to collect data on consumption and consequence patterns, and to use data to describe their community, as well as their community's capacity to address identified problems. Communities are ultimately required to choose programs and practices whose effectiveness is supported by data.

More information on the SPF, its 5-step program and each of the steps and related topics (including epidemiology and prevention) can be found at:

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