The Public Health
Model of Prevention

This model of prevention helps us to understand the process for working to prevent violence in our communities.  The steps are to 1. Define the problem, 2. Identify risk and protective factors, 3. Develop and test prevention strategies, 4. Assure widespread adoption. 

1. Define the problem

To prevent violence we need to understand how big the problem is, and how often it occurs.  One way to do this is to study data collected from a variety of resources, including the services provided by our member programs, law enforcement, and the legal justice system, among other groups who serve people and families victimized by violence.  Data can show us how often violence-related behaviors occur, how often injuries and deaths are reported, and who victims and perpetrators are.  Data also shows us the needs met in shelter programs across Kentucky, in addition to new trends and developments.

2. Identify risk and protective factors

Also important to know is what factors put people at risk for experiencing violence, and what factors protect them.  Risk and protective factors are useful because they help us to focus our prevention efforts.  Please note, however, that risk factors do not cause violence, and the presence of risk factors does not mean that a person will always experience violence.  Risk and protective factors only provide us with more guidance in understanding what prevention efforts work best, and where.  Look below for examples of risk and protective factors identified by the CDC.

Protective factors examples

  • Strong and positive family bonds

  • Parental monitoring of children’s activities

  • Clear rules of conduct that are consistently enforced within the family

  • Involvement of parents in the lives of their children

  • Success in school performance; strong bonds with institutions (school or religious organizations)

Risk factors examples

  • Belief in strict gender roles

  • Desire for power and control

  • Weak community sanctions against perpetration of violence

  • Chaotic home environments, with substance abuse, mental illnesses, or domestic violence

  • Lack of parent-child attachment

  • Poor school performance, lack of support for school performance

3. Develop and test prevention strategies

We can use research and data to figure out what will work best from community to community.  Many tools help us to do this, including analyzing data, community surveys, stakeholder interviews, and focus groups.  We call this “evidence-based” approach to planning prevention programs.  Working this way also allows us to help certain communities identify what is best for them, in local areas.  We work at the statewide coalition to develop prevention efforts, but we cannot affect communities without learning what they want and need. 

4. Assure widespread adoption

Once we work with communities to implement prevention work we will evaluate those programs to make sure they are actually working.  If they are really working, then we want to share those programs with as many communities as we can.  We adapt programs to make sure they are relevant, and to meet the individual needs of the community.  Dissemination techniques that help encourage widespread adoption include training, networking, technical assistance, and process evaluation.


Adapted from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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