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The Principles of Prevention

Maury Nation and colleagues completed research that looked at successful prevention programs and identified criteria that were commonly found in these programs. These are referred to as the Nine Principles of Effective Prevention Programs. The Nine Principles serve as a good checklist when reviewing prevention plans to ensure that multiple criterion are met.

  1. Comprehensive Services: Strategies should include multiple components and affect multiple settings to address a wide range of risk and protective factors of the target problem.
  2. Varied Teaching Methods: Strategies should include multiple teaching methods, including some type of active, skills based component.
  3. Sufficient Dosage: Participants need to be exposed to enough of the activity for it to have an effect.
  4. Theory Driven: Preventive strategies should have scientific or logical rationale.
  5. Positive Relationships: Programs should foster strong, stable, positive relationships between children and adults.
  6. Appropriately Timed: Program activities should happen at a time (developmentally) that can have maximum impact in a participant's life.
  7. Socioculturally Relevant: Programs should be tailored to fit within cultural beliefs and practices of specific groups, as well as local community norms.
  8. Outcome Evaluation: A systematic outcome evaluation is necessary to determine whether a program or strategy worked.
  9. Well-Trained Staff: Programs need to be implemented by staff members who are sensitive, competent, and have received sufficient training, support, and supervision. Follow up (booster) training and technical assistance to staff are critical.
Nation, M., Crusto, C., Wandersman, A., Kumpfer, K. L., Seybolt, D., Morrissey-Kane, E., & Davino, K. (2003). What works in prevention: Principles of effective prevention programs. American Psychologist, 58, 449-456.

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Reviewed: April 14th, 2015