Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Step 3. Plan

Logic Models

Elements of an Outcomes-based Logic Model

In the context of the SPF, outcomes-based logic models typically display the relationship between the following key elements:

  • Problems and related behaviors
    • Problems refer to the effects (or consequences) of using substances. Substance use and abuse can lead to various, and possibly multiple, related problems. Potential problems produced by alcohol include alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related traffic crashes, and increased violence.
    • Related behaviors, sometimes referred to as consumption patterns, describe how people within a specific group use or misuse substances. Binge drinking among 18- to 25-year-olds is an example of a related behavior, or consumption pattern.

As part of the SPF process, communities are expected to complete an assessment to prioritize the problems and related behaviors that they plan to address with their prevention efforts.

  • Risk and protective factors (also referred to as intervening variables/causal factors) include biological, physical, geographical, social, and economic factors that contribute to the positive or negative health of a population3. The SPF is built on the idea that changing specific risk and protective factors at the community level will bring about changes in substance use problems and related behaviors. Different risk and protective factors impact different problems and related behaviors, to different degrees. When developing a logic model, communities should be clear about which risk and/or protective factors they plan to address with their prevention efforts.
  • Interventions or prevention strategies are the efforts a community puts in place to reduce the incidence or prevalence of identified substance use problems and risk behaviors. Preventive interventions or strategies should be evidence-based, meaning there is sufficient research and evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of the strategy, and should address the identified risk and/or protective factors. Communities are likely to identify multiple interventions or strategies to address each of their targeted risk factors.*
  • Expected outcomes are the overall changes communities strive to achieve through implementation of their prevention plans. Prevention planners strive to achieve both short-term and long-term outcomes.
    • Short-term outcomes describe the immediate effects of the intervention(s) being implemented as part of the overall planning process. They typically include changes in knowledge, attitudes, and skills of the focus population. As depicted in Figure 1. Logic Model for Underage Drinking, the short-term outcome is to reduce the number of underage youth purchasing alcohol. In this case, the community intends to achieve this outcome by implementing compliance checks and merchant education.
    • Long-term outcomes tend to be connected more directly to the problems and related behaviors communities are trying to change. In Figure 1, the long-term outcome is to reduce the percentage of underage youth who had at least one drink in the past 30 days (i.e., current use). This outcome relates directly to the identified behavior/related problems: underage drinking.
Figure 1. Logic Model for Underage Drinking

*Communities are encouraged to develop separate, program-level logic models to guide the planning and implementation of each of the interventions or strategies they select. These models describe the underlying “theory” or set of assumptions for why the selected program, practice, or strategy works, and how specific intervention components and activities will produce desired change in a set of individuals or a population.


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