Selecting Interventions

Comprehensive plans to develop and maintain safe and supportive learning environments combine a variety of strategies and interventions. It is important to understand the relationships between problems and the factors or conditions that contribute to them. 

Focusing on interventions on a continuum of evidence helps to view outcomes in terms of context. Not only does the degree of evidence matter, but also whether that evidence supported a program’s appropriateness in a given context. For example, a program intervention that was effective at a large urban university would not necessarily be effective at a rural community college. To select an evidence-based approach or intervention that is a good fit for your campus and surrounding community, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), recommends that you

Consider practical fit.

According to SAMHSA, “strength of evidence is critical to selecting approaches that are likely to work. But not all evidence-based approaches or interventions are right for all communities. Best fit interventions are those approached or interventions that (1) most clearly impact the substance abuse or related behavioral health problem in your community; and (2) are most appropriate, given the community’s needs, resources, and readiness to act.” 

Is the intervention a good match for the campus and surrounding community and its available resources, cultural context, and community readiness to take action? Will it garner the support of community leaders? Is it culturally appropriate for the target population? According to Strategic Planning for Prevention Professionals on Campus, a social ecological framework used in public health work defines one dimension of the typology by classifying programs and policies as individual, group, institution, community, and societal influences, with a special focus on state and federal public policy.

Consider effectiveness.

Do the selected interventions meet criteria for what is based on evidence? How strong is the evidence? SAMHSA, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and Centers for Disease Control have described criteria for evidence-based strategies.


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