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Assessment for Your Communities Talk to Prevent Underage Drinking Activity

A Communities Talk to Prevent Underage Drinking activity should be part of a community’s overall substance misuse prevention strategy. Strategic prevention plans are based on a community’s specific challenges related to underage drinking and substance misuse, as well as that community’s needs, capacity, and readiness to respond. Communities Talk activities should be tailored to the community’s needs.

Communities should collect and carefully analyze data to understand:

  • Underlying needs and conditions that must be addressed to prevent and reduce underage drinking;
  • Resources that are required or available to move prevention forward; and
  • Goals, target populations, and desired outcomes for the community.

The results of your overall underage drinking and substance misuse prevention assessment are a guide to develop your Communities Talk activity.

Assessment Steps for a Communities Talk Activity

Consider these steps as you start to plan a Communities Talk activity:

  • Convene an assessment committee or workgroup of diverse community stakeholders;
  • Create a data collection plan, which can be a focus group or even a simple survey of a select segment of the community;
  • Collect data on underage drinking rates in your state or region through the State Profiles and the state and district comparisons to national data included in the Youth Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Summaries, then identify any gaps in data;
  • Analyze the data and use it to inform the content and planning of your activity;
  • Implement the plan; and
  • Remember to create a process to evaluate the outcome of your Communities Talk activity. Sending the same survey six months or one year later can show if the results you expected from your Communities Talk prevention activity are emerging.

Assessment Tools

  • SAMHSA's Strategic Prevention Framework has information about the five steps of effective strategic planning, including details about conducting assessments.
  • Several federal agencies maintain websites and databases on underage drinking and its consequences. Check "Reports" and "Websites" in the search box to the left to explore these resources.
  • SAMHSA's Focus on Prevention provides more information about the value and process of conducting a community assessment as the foundation for effective action.

Data Resources

Next, read Planning Your Communities Talk to Prevent Underage Drinking Activity.