The Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute is based on projects funded
by the National Institutes of Health grants since the early 1990's. The
initial grant was called Project Family. From this early grant the project
has evolved into a large-scale program of research on interventions designed
to build family and youth competencies, thereby preventing youth substance
abuse and other problem behaviors. The program of research has included a
number of studies funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the
National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Institute on Alcohol
Abuse and Alcoholism, as well as smaller investigations supported by
foundations and other agencies (e.g., Center for Substance Abuse
Prevention). To date, over $51 million in grants has been secured.
Our university motto “science with practice”
captures the central theme of this action research. Its purpose is
Concerning our “practice” purpose,
we aim to enhance the well-being of participating families and children
through the implementation of scientifically-tested programs and practices.
Central to this effort are community-university partnerships that build
capacity for widespread application of proven programs and practices. Our
partnership efforts are grounded in two high-capacity program delivery
systems, namely, the Cooperative Extension System and the public school
system. Overall, we aim to:
1. Increase youth competencies, strengthen families, and reduce youth
problem behaviors in our communities;
2. Increase capacity for quality implementation of scientifically-tested
preventive interventions, through school-community-university partnerships.
Concerning our “science”
purpose, we aim to test and refine four types of models for universal
preventive intervention research. This work entails the examination of:
1. Factors in local adoption of, and participation in,
2. Factors in sustained, quality implementation of these programs;
3. Outcomes of these programs for diverse populations, as well as factors
4. Effective partnership processes and their influence on positive program
To date, 17 studies have been conducted, including six randomized,
controlled intervention outcome studies. Initially funded in the fall of
1991, the flagship study has been supported by five competitive grants from
the National Institutes of Health, starting with a controlled pilot study in
1992. Beginning with families of 5th graders in 1993, a subsequent
longitudinal efficacy study has since been extended to include data
collection from young adults. Two family-focused preventive interventions
are being evaluated through the study, the Iowa Strengthening Families
Program and Preparing for the Drug Free Years. As part of this project, a
number of studies examine factors influencing parent and youth participation
in preventive interventions.
The Capable Families and Youth (CaFaY) project is a more recent addition to
longitudinal Project Family studies. The project includes both family and
school based interventions for Parents and Youth (Life Skills Training and
the Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14,
respectively), and evaluates whether a combination of school- and
family-focused interventions is more effective than a school-based
intervention alone. The CaFaY project was proposed as a five-year study.
Through a NIDA MERIT award to the principal investigator, a five-year
extension to the project has been funded. This is one of only three such
grants ever awarded for a NIDA-funded preventive intervention research
Another longitudinal outcome study, known as Harambee, was undertaken in Des
Moines, Iowa, to examine an adaptation of the Strengthening Families Program
for African-American Families. This study is part of a larger investigation
at the Institute--the Family and Community Health Study. Preliminary
findings from the Des Moines study have guided further revisions of the
Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth 10-14, for application
to rural families in Georgia. A large-scale prevention trial is now
underway in Georgia, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of
Georgia in Athens.
The Des Moines study is part of a larger effort to improve understanding of
methods for culturally-sensitive adaptations of interventions for minority
populations. This work began with efforts designed to adapt interventions
and intervention assessment methods for Native Americans. Groundwork with
Native Americans has lead to a preventive intervention outcome study with
Mille Lacs tribes in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Grounded in experience with earlier projects, particularly CaFaY, the
PROSPER project (PROmoting School/community-university Partnerships to
Enhance Resilience) has been developed. It is designed to promote the
development of sustainable partnerships among schools, communities and
universities. These partnerships are intended to facilitate the delivery of
scientifically-tested interventions aiming to reduce adolescent substance
use or other problem behaviors and to promote youth competence. Funded by
the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the PROSPER project involves
partnerships in selected communities in two states (Iowa and
Pennsylvania). A randomized trial is evaluating effectiveness on a range of
outcomes, focusing on youth competencies and problem behavior reduction.
Also, the project will examine relationships among partnership functioning,
intervention implementation quality, and intervention outcomes.
In January 2004, the program of research had evolved to the point that the
university requested that the Board of Regents approve the Partnerships in
Prevention Science Institute to house the work and to create a platform for
organization of a national network of partnership-based research.
Institute investigators have secured over $51 million in grants, primarily
from the National Institutes of Health since late 1991.
In 2002, a $21 million grant was received from NIDA to test an innovative
community-university partnership model for the diffusion of
empirically-supported youth and family programs—one that links USDA's
Extension System with the Public School System.
In 1998, a MERIT award from NIDA was one of only three ever awarded to a
preventive intervention research project.
Project Family was one of ten projects selected and described in the
National Institute on Drug Abuse's (1997) Preventing Drug Abuse Among
Children and Adolescents: A Research-based Guide.
The Institute projects have produced over 117 manuscripts since 1993,
addressing a wide range of family-focused preventive intervention research
The staff have participated in over 37 expert panels or technical advisory
groups, primarily for federal agencies.
Since 1997, the Iowa adaptation of the Strengthening Families Program has
been recognized by three federal agencies, based upon positive findings from Project Family research. Also, Project Family findings were used to support the program’s development and refinement. Through ISU Extension, this program has been offered to families
in almost one-half of Iowa's counties, in about 40 other states, and in 4
Since 1993, Institute staff have made over 168 presentations at professional
About 30,000 individuals have been assessed across studies.
Over 618 schools have been involved in various aspects of project studies
and 106 schools have been recruited and retained for randomized, controlled
- School recruitment rate—90%
Student participation rate in school-based interventions—mid-90s%
- Family participation rate in interventions—mid-50s to mid-60s%
- Program implementation adherence rate—average 85%
- Retention rate in family interventions—over 90%
Selected positive findings from Institute projects,
including economic benefits, are summarized in the powerpoint
presentation linked below.