Community coalitions are a prominent organizational structure through which community-based substance abuse prevention efforts are implemented. There is little empirical evidence, however, regarding the association between coalition attributes and success in achieving community-level reductions in substance abuse behaviors. In this study, we assessed the relationship between coalition capacity, based on coalition coordinator responses to 16 survey items, and reductions in underage drinking prevalence rates. The coalitions were funded through the federally sponsored Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF SIG). We first examined whether coalition capacity increased over the life of the projects. Mean capacity scores increased for all 16 capacity items examined (N = 318 coalitions), the majority of which were statistically significant. Analysis of the associations between capacity and reductions in underage drinking was limited to coalitions that targeted underage drinking and provided usable outcome measures based on student survey data for either past 30-day alcohol use (N = 129) or binge drinking (N = 100). Bivariate associations between the capacity items and prevalence reductions for each outcome were consistently positive, although many were not statistically significant. Composite measures of correlated items were then created to represent six different capacity constructs, and included in multivariate models to predict reductions in the targeted outcomes. Constructs that significantly predicted reductions in one or both outcome measures included internal organization and structure, community connections and outreach, and funding from multiple sources. The findings provide support for the expectation that high functioning community coalitions can be effective agents for producing desirable community-level changes in targeted substance abuse behaviors.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 9, 2016
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