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Applying the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF)

Prevention professionals use SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) as a comprehensive guide to plan, implement, and evaluate prevention efforts.

The Five Steps of the SPF

SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) is a planning process for preventing substance use and misuse.

The five steps of the SPF guide prevention professionals in planning, implementing, and evaluating effective evidence-based prevention efforts that reflect cultural competence and show sustainability. The effectiveness of this process begins with a clear understanding of community needs and involves community members in all stages of the planning process.

Diagram showing the five steps of the Strategic Prevention Framework centered around the guiding principles of sustainability and cultural competence.

Download the Strategic Prevention Framework image (JPG | 65 KB).

The SPF reflects a community-based approach to prevention efforts and helps states, tribes, and jurisdictions build the infrastructure necessary for successful outcomes.

Each step contains specific tasks and key milestones. The steps of the SPF include:

Step 1: Assess Needs

Step 2: Build Capacity

Step 3: Plan

Step 4: Implement

Step 5: Evaluate

Distinctive Features of the SPF

The SPF planning process has four distinctive features:

Outcomes-based Prevention

The SPF offers guidance in defining the specific results you expect to accomplish with your prevention plan. This kind of outcomes-based prevention starts with looking at consequences of use—what happens when people misuse substances. It then identifies the consumption patterns—the way people use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs—that produce these consequences. Once you have implemented your program, evaluate the outcomes.

Population-level Change

Earlier prevention models often measured success by looking at individual program outcomes or changes among small groups. Under the SPF, a community might decide to implement a range of programs instead, which could collectively produce broader change. Population-level change also allows you to begin assessing risk and protective factors that are often interrelated and influence substance misuse.

Prevention Across the Lifespan

Substance misuse prevention has traditionally focused on adolescent consumption patterns. The SPF challenges prevention professionals to look at substance misuse among populations that are often overlooked and among all age groups, such as people ages 18 to 25 or adults age 65 and up.

Data-driven Decision-making

Collect data on consumption and consequence patterns before starting your prevention program; epidemiological profiles for states and jurisdictions are key sources of data. Also use data to assess your community’s needs as well as your community’s resources and readiness to address the target problems. Finally, choose an evidence-based prevention program that is appropriate for your community’s needs, resources, and level of readiness. Learn more about practicing evidence-based prevention.

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Last Updated: 04/05/2016