This document presents nine states of community readiness for engaging in prevention activities.
Through extensive research on community development and substance abuse prevention efforts, researchers (Oetting et al. 1995) have identified nine stages of readiness through which communities develop. The higher the stage of development the greater the degree of readiness. Each stage is described below, accompanied by the characteristics of communities at each stage and strategies for increasing readiness.
Stage 1: Community Tolerance/No Knowledge
Community norms actively tolerate or encourage the behavior, although the behavior may be expected of one group and not another (e.g., by gender, race, social class, or age). The behavior, when occurring in the appropriate social context, is viewed as acceptable or as part of the community norm. Those who do not engage in the behavior may be tolerated, but might be viewed as somewhat deviant. Stage 1 strategies include:
Stage 2: Denial
There is usually recognition that the behavior is or can be a problem. Community norms usually would not approve of the behavior, but there is little or no recognition that this might be a local problem. If there is some idea that it is a problem, there is a feeling that nothing needs to be done about this locally, or that nothing can be done about it. Stage 2 strategies include:
Stage 3: Vague Awareness
There is a general belief that there is a local problem and that something ought to be done about it. Knowledge about local problems tends to be stereotypical and vague, or linked only to a specific incident or two. There is no immediate motivation to do anything. No identifiable leadership exists, or leadership lacks energy or motivation. Stage 3 strategies include:
Stage 4: Pre-planning
There is clear recognition that there is a local problem and that something should be done about it. There is general information about local problems, but ideas about etiology or risk factors tend to be stereotyped. There are identifiable leaders, and there may be a committee, but no real planning. Stage 4 strategies include:
Stage 5: Preparation
Planning is going on and focuses on practical details. There is general information about local problems and about the pros and cons of prevention programs, but it may not be based on formally collected data. Leadership is active and energetic. The program may have started on a trial basis. Funding is being actively sought or has been committed. Stage 5 strategies include:
Stage 6: Initiation
Enough information is available to justify a prevention program, but knowledge of risk factors is likely to be stereotyped. A program has been started and is running, but it is still on trial. Staff is in training or has just finished training. There may be great enthusiasm because limitations and problems have not yet been experienced. Stage 6 strategies include:
Stage 7: Institutionalization/Stabilization
One or two programs are running, supported by administration, and accepted as a routine and valuable activity. Staff are trained and experienced. There is little perceived need for change or expansion. Limitations may be known, but there is not much sense that the limitations suggest a need for change. There may be some form of routine tracking of prevalence. There is not necessarily permanent funding, but there is established funding that allows the program the opportunity to implement its action plan. Stage 7 strategies include:
Stage 8: Confirmation/Expansion
Standard programs are viewed as valuable and authorities support expanding or improving programs. New programs are being planned or tried out in order to reach more people, those thought to be more at risk or different demographic groups. Funds for new programs are being sought or committed. Data are obtained regularly on extent of local problems and efforts are made to assess risk factors and causes of the problem. Stage 8 strategies include:
Stage 9: Professionalization
Detailed and sophisticated knowledge of prevalence, risk factors and etiology exists. Some programs may be aimed at general populations, while others are targeted at specific risk factors and/or at-risk groups. Highly trained staff members are running programs, authorities are supportive, and community involvement is high. Effective evaluation is used to test and modify programs. Stage 9 strategies include:
National Institute of Drug Abuse, (1997). Community Readiness for Drug Abuse Prevention: Issues, Tips and Tools. St. Paul, MN pp. 131-150.
Developed under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies contract. Reference #HHSS277200800004C. For training and/or technical assistance purposes only.