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ATOD Prevention Planning Tutorial - Step 2

Step 2: Identifying Risk and Protective Factors

The second step in the prevention planning process is to identify the risk factors that increase the likelihood of ATOD problems and antisocial behaviors in your locality or Health Planning Region (HPR), as well as the protective factors that are known to buffer the influence of those risk factors. An examination of the prevalence of the 25 risk factors and the 10 protective factors measured in the Community Youth Survey, as well as the 9 risk factors identified in the Social Indicator Study, can help you prioritize prevention efforts in your locality or HPR.

You might see some discrepancies between the risk and protective factor results from the Community Youth Survey and the Social Indicator Study. One cause of these discrepancies is that different methods were used to collect Community Youth Survey information and social indicator information, and these different methods are subject to different biases. Community Youth Survey information is collected through self-reports, which rely on the respondents' ability to remember, and which are vulnerable to self-presentation bias (that is, people tend to present themselves in the best possible light). Local laws and policies may influence social indicator information. For example, arrest data are subject to local law enforcement policies. Although the Community Youth Survey is a more direct measure of ATOD use and risk and protective factors, social indicator information may be a more objective measure.

Sample Charts

Youth Survey Risk Factors for Community Domain
Youth Survey Risk Factors bar graph

Standardized Social Indicator Risk Profile
Social Indicator Risk preofile bar chart

Another cause of discrepancies is the sensitivity of the measures used. In some cases, the Community Youth Survey scales were more sensitive measures of a particular risk factor. The Community Youth Survey results in 36 scales derived from 129 questions, while the Social Indicator Study results in 14 scales derived from 42 indicators. For example, the risk factor availability of drugs is measured in the Social Indicator Study based on the number of retail alcohol sales outlets, yearly net sales of alcohol, and yearly rates of retail tobacco sales per 100,000 population. The Community Youth Survey risk factor scale for availability of drugs is based on surveyed youths' responses to questions designed to measure their perceptions of how easy or difficult it would be for them to obtain various types of ATODs. (See the sample charts.)

The studies also used different methods to identify risk factors. The Community Youth Survey determined risk factor prevalence based on objective scale cutoff scores, and the Social Indicator Study assessed risk factors based on how data for the locality compared to the state average.

To resolve these discrepancies at the local level, you may want to ask community stakeholders and key informants for additional information. For example, you might determine that early initiation of antisocial behavior is a priority risk factor based on the Community Youth Survey, but the scale is not above the Commonwealth average, based on arrest data from the Social Indicator Study. It would be important to know if your community's enforcement efforts are consistent with enforcement efforts targeting juvenile offenses in other Virginia localities.

As you examine your information derived from the Social Indicator Study and the Community Youth Survey, you are attempting to answer the question, "What are the priority risk and protective factors in my community?" To obtain your answer, address the following:

  • Which risk factors in your community are higher than the state average?

  • Which protective factors are lower than the state average?

  • Are youth in the middle-school age group exposed to certain risk factors in your community?

  • Are youth in the high-school age group exposed to certain risk factors in your community?

  • Which risk factors are the most prevalent in your community? Which risk factors do you have the ability to reduce or eliminate? Can these risk factors be addressed by a prevention program you can implement?

  • Can you identify a cluster of risk factors that are related and can be addressed together by a prevention program?

  • Which protective factors are low in your community? Can they be enhanced by a prevention program you can implement?

To review your locality or HPR risk factor information from the Social Indicator Study, select your locality or HPR of interest using the pull-down menu below. Then, return here to Step 2.

Social Indicator Risk Profile:

Social Indicator Risk Profile by HPR:

To review your HPR risk factor information from the Community Youth Survey, select your locality of interest using the pull-down menu below. Then, return here to Step 2.

Community Youth Survey Risk Factors by Region:

To review your HPR protective factor information from the Community Youth Survey, select your locality of interest using the pull-down menu below. Then, return here to Step 2.

Community Youth Survey Protective Factors by Region:

Based on your examination of the information from the Social Indicator Study and the Community Youth Survey, and your responses to the questions above, what are the priority risk and protective factors in your community? Write down this information, and move on to Step 3: Identifying and Implementing Interventions.

To return to the top of the tutorial home page, click here.


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