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Understanding Logic Models

Prevention professionals use logic models to show how all of the elements of their prevention efforts work together to produce change.

A logic model is a visual tool that shows the logic, or rationale, behind a program or process. Like a roadmap, it tells you where you are, where you are going, and how you will get there. In the prevention field, planners often use logic models to:

  • Visualize how the pieces of a prevention plan fit together
  • Provide explicit rationale for selecting prevention programs, policies, and practices to address substance use problems

Elements of a Logic Model

Diagram illustrating an outcomes-based logic model showing how multiple factors in a defined community may produce one or more desired outcomes.

Download the Outcomes-based Logic Model diagram (JPG | 36 KB).

When used as part of applying the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF), logic models show the relationship between the following four elements:

  • Problems and Related Behaviors. Problems refer to the consequences of using substances. Substance use can lead to many related problems, such as health issues, traffic accidents, and increased violence. Related behaviors, sometimes referred to as consumption patterns, describe how people within a specific group use or misuse substances. Binge drinking among 18- to 25-year-olds is an example of a related behavior.
  • Risk and Protective Factors. The SPF is built on the idea that targeting specific risk and protective factors at the community level will reduce substance misuse and related behaviors. Different risk and protective factors affect different problems and related behaviors to different degrees. When developing a logic model, prevention professionals must be clear about which risk and/or protective factors they plan to address with their prevention efforts.
  • Prevention Interventions. Prevention interventions are the specific programs that prevention professionals put in place to produce changes in people’s behavior. These interventions should draw on evidence-based prevention, meaning there is sufficient research and evidence to show that the strategy is effective. Prevention interventions should also address the identified risk and/or protective factors. You may identify and choose to use multiple programs and strategies to address each of the risk factors affecting your target population.

    Learn more about practicing effective prevention.

  • Expected Outcomes. Expected outcomes are the overall behavioral changes prevention planners seek to achieve through their prevention interventions. Many interventions have both short-term and long-term outcomes:
    • Short-term outcomes describe the immediate effects of the interventions being implemented. They typically include changes in knowledge, attitudes, and skills of the target population. One example of a short-term outcome may be to reduce the number of underage youth purchasing alcohol.
    • Long-term outcomes tend to be connected more directly to the problems and related behaviors prevention professionals are trying to change. An example of a long-term outcome is to reduce the percentage of underage youth who had at least one drink in the past 30 days. This outcome relates directly to the identified behavior—underage drinking.

      Learn more about outcomes evaluation.

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Last Updated: 07/17/2018