Needs assessment is a critical step in the practice of substance abuse prevention in a community. This course is a practical guide to conducting needs assessment studies specifically for substance abuse prevention. Assessment is the first of five components in the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) promoted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In this course, the student will learn what is involved in conducting a needs assessment, the purposes fulfilled by assessments, and how to collect and analyze data for a needs assessment study. The course presents a four-step method for conducting an assessment.
Approximate Completion Time: 4 Hours
When conducting an assessment in a community related to substance abuse, it is important to assess both needs and assets in the community. A useful technique on the assets side of the equation is Asset Mapping. This course explains what is involved in Asset Mapping and provides specific instructions on how to conduct an Asset Mapping project. Examples are provided of prevention initiatives that made use of Asset Mapping as a tool for identifying and mobilizing resources in a community.
Approximate Completion Time: 3 Hours

The third step in SAMHSA's five-step Strategic Prevention Framework is Planning. The Planning step builds on what was accomplished in the Assessment and Capacity Building steps by developing a sound plan for the implementation of a community-based prevention initiative. This course focuses on the planning process, starting with the formation of an inclusive planning work-group. After taking the necessary preparatory steps, the planning work-group engages in a three-phase planning process: 1) Agreeing on purpose and priorities, 2) Selecting strategy, programs, and activities, and 3) Developing an action plan. This course emphasizes the importance of utilizing Assessment data in making planning decisions so that the prevention plan reflects an evidence-based approach.

Approximate Completion Time: 3 Hours

The second step in SAMHSA's five-step Strategic Prevention Framework is Capacity Building. Building capacity for prevention work in a community is critical. In this course, you will learn about the five aspects of Capacity Building: Resources, Collaboration, Information, Skills, and Institutionalization. An approach to assessing the current capacity of a community is provided, along with a "readiness continuum" to help interpret the results of your assessment. The course then suggests how to use the results of a readiness assessment to establish a strategy for Capacity Building activities.
Approximate Completion Time: 3 Hours