Prevention and intervention programs often evolve based on the personal experiences, good intentions, and opportunities in a community and/or the convictions of funders and policy makers. Sometimes these homegrown approaches are very effective; sometimes they don't work or are harmful; and other times they are somewhat effective and could be improved. It is possible to improve the likelihood of success by building more consistently on several types of existing knowledge bases and combining effective components in thoughtful ways to address new problems or new populations. Triangulating across information from research and evaluation, including meta-analysis and research-based kernels, as well as developmental theory, longitudinal and other research, and the wisdom of practitioners, can inform the development of programs that are more effective at achieving the outcomes desired for children, youth, and families.
In this paper we have described opportunities to incorporate research evidence into program design at five stages of the program development process:
- Defining the problem
- Identifying relevant risk, protective and promotive factors
- Selecting strategies most likely to influence targeted risk, protective, and promotive factors
- Using a logic model to assemble the intervention
- Testing the elements of your evidence-informed program
This is not a quick or easy endeavor; but investing the time and effort necessary to develop evidence-informed interventions should result in more effective programs and thus better child and youth outcomes.