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Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities
Service, 2001c), and underage drinking (Spoth, Greenberg, and Turrisi, 2008). Programs are given various designations including “effective,” “exemplary,” “promising,” “research-based,” and “model.” In addition, many federally funded technical assistance centers include lists of evidence-based or effective programs on their web pages, often drawing from these many resources.
Increasingly, federal agencies and programs are requiring that program funds be used exclusively for “evidence-based programs.” Guidance of what might be considered evidence-based varies, but generally it includes, but is not limited to, inclusion of a program on one or more federal lists. ACF recently issued a request for proposals to support infrastructure for the delivery of evidence-based home visitation programs, specifically excluding evidence from pre-post designs and programs that did not sustain results after two years.16
The SSHS Program has a somewhat broader set of criteria, defining evidence-based practices or interventions as “approaches to prevention, behavioral intervention, and treatment that are validated by some form of documented scientific evidence to indicate their effectiveness. Programs, practices, and interventions that are based on tradition, convention, belief, or anecdotal evidence are not evidence-based” (Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative, 2009, p. 43).
SAMHSA’s guidance to states in selecting interventions to be used under the Strategic Prevention Framework is even broader. In addition to inclusion on a federal list or registry or being reported with positive effects in a peer-reviewed journal, it states that effectiveness can be based on:
a solid theory or theoretical perspective that has been validated by research;
a documented body of knowledge generated from similar or related interventions with empirical evidence; and
a consensus among informed experts (key community prevention leaders, elders, or other respected leaders in indigenous cultures) regarding effectiveness based on a combination of theory, research, and practice experience.
The Society for Prevention Research (SPR) recommended standards for identifying effective prevention programs and policies in response to the proliferation of lists and guidelines. SPR proposed a tiered evidence standard with a basic standard for efficacious interventions, additional requirements for effective interventions, and a yet higher standard for determining that an intervention is ready for broad dissemination (Flay,