Measuring community and school district readiness for prevention using publicly available secondary data: Findings from a Delphi study

Primary author: Gitanjali Shrestha
Co-author(s): Laura Hill; Clara Hill
Faculty sponsor: Laura Hill

Primary college/unit: Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences
Campus: Pullman

Introduction: Readiness for prevention is an important factor in prevention program success; thus, measuring readiness is a key step in disseminating prevention programs. Existing measures of readiness are time and resource intensive. Thus, the identification of publicly available proxy variables for readiness will not only be more resource efficient, it will also help prevention efforts in which readiness data has not been prospectively collected. The purpose of this study was to use the Delphi technique to identify publicly available proxy variables for community and school district readiness.

Method: We conducted a three-round Delphi study with ten prevention experts across five states to garner expert consensus on publicly available variables that could be considered proxies for readiness. Round 1 consisted of expert interviews, while rounds 2 and 3 consisted of online surveys.

Results: Findings reveal that certain dimensions of community readiness can be assessed using publicly available secondary datasets. Results indicated that 17 variables across eight domains can be considered proxies for readiness. Six of these 17 variables are specific to school district readiness, while the remaining 11 are proxies for both community and school district readiness. The study also yielded interesting insights into readiness such as the distinction between proxy variables for readiness and contextual variables for readiness, as well as the overlap between community readiness variables and school district readiness variables.

Conclusion: The list of proxy readiness variables is especially useful in large-scale evaluations or in circumstances where limited resources prohibit the collection of readiness data.