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Assessing Your Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking event

Ideally, a Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking event will be part of a community’s overall strategic prevention plan. Such plans should be based on an assessment that helps define the underage drinking problem and a community’s needs, capacity, and readiness to respond. Information gathered during an assessment will help Town Hall Meeting organizers identify one or more prevention priorities on which to focus their event, and can help organizers understand who they are marketing their event to and why.

An assessment involves the collection of data to understand:

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

Assessment Steps

The following steps can be useful in conducting a high-quality assessment:

  • Convene an assessment committee or workgroup to collect the data;
  • Examine what data are currently available to assess the underlying conditions;
  • Determine what data still need to be collected;
  • Determine the best methods to gather the data and develop a data collection plan;
  • Implement the data collection plan;
  • Analyze and interpret the data; and
  • Use the data to determine priorities for developing goals and objectives and selecting the type of environmental prevention to implement.

Assessment Tools

  • 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.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Focus on Prevention provides more information about the value and process of conducting a community assessment as the foundation for effective action.
  • State profiles are brief summaries of prevalence, consequences, and state prevention policies and programs taken from SAMHSA’s annual Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking. These state profiles are useful for community/state comparisons.

Next, read about Planning Your Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking event.