Multi-component Strategies

Multicomponent programs combine environmental prevention strategies with each other or with individual- or family-level change strategies. Such programs often rely on collaboration among different community sectors (e.g., public health, education, business, law enforcement) to design, raise awareness of, and/or implement program activities. Research indicates that effective multi-component programs:

  • Include complementary strategies. This means, for example, combinations of skills-based strategies for youth and families, campaigns designed to promote environments in which underage drinking is not accepted, policies that reduce availability of and access to alcohol, enforcement of these policies, and more intensive counseling and psycho-educational programming for students at high risk for underage drinking and alcohol abuse.1
  • Coordinate with other community efforts. Before implementing a new program, policy, or strategy, practitioners should learn about, and build on, existing prevention efforts—for example, by implementing program components that can be integrated into other complementary efforts.2
  • Reach different populations at risk. Multi-component efforts are more likely to be effective if they meet the needs of the general population as well as of those populations that are at increased risk of underage drinking.3
  • Recruit and involve community members whose positions, expertise, or skills match the purpose and plan of the program.4 For example, if school-based prevention is part of a community’s comprehensive prevention program, then practitioners should involve school teachers, administration, and students in both the planning and implementation of any school-based components.
  • Use media and community education strategies. Such strategies increase public awareness, attract community support, reinforce any school-based curricula being implemented with students and parents, and keep the public informed of program progress.5
  • Possess a shared vision of purpose and direction. Cross-sector collaboration and community engagement efforts commonly featured in multi-component programs are likely to contribute to anticipated program outcomes if all parties involved share the same vision of what they would like to achieve and understand how all the components work together to produce change.6

Multicomponent strategies summarized here include the following:

1 Seo, D-C., Owens, D., Gassman, R., & Kingori, C. (2012). Effects of a 2.5-year campus-wide intervention to reduce college drinking. Health Education Journal, 72(6), 673–683.

2 Wagenaar, A. C., Gehan, J. P., Jones-Webb, R., Toomey, T. L., Forster, J. L., Wolfson, M., & Murray, D. M. (1999). Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol: Lessons and results from a 15-community randomized trial. Journal of Community Psychology, 27(3), 315-326; and Wagenaar, A. C., Murray, D. M., Gehan, J. P., Wolfson, M., Forster, J. L., Toomey, T. L., . . . Jones–Webb, R. (2000). Communities mobilizing for change on alcohol: Outcomes from a randomized community trial. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 61, 85–94.

3 Seo, D-C., Owens, D., Gassman, R., & Kingori, C. (2012). Effects of a 2.5-year campus-wide intervention to reduce college drinking. Health Education Journal, 72(6), 673–683.

4 Pentz, M. A., Dwyer, J. H., MacKinnon, D. P., Flay, B. R., Hansen, W. B., Yu, E. I., & Johnson, A. C.  (1989). A multicommunity trial for primary prevention of adolescent drug abuse: Effects on drug use prevalence. Journal of the American Medical Association, 261(22), 3259–3266.

5 Wood, M. D., DeJong, W., Fairlie, A. M., Lawson, D., Lavigne, A. M., & Cohen, F. (2009). Common ground: An investigation of environmental management alcohol prevention initiatives in a college community. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, S16, 96–105.

6 Wagenaar, A. C., Gehan, J. P., Jones-Webb, R., Toomey, T. L., Forster, J. L., Wolfson, M., & Murray, D. M. (1999). Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol: Lessons and results from a 15-community randomized trial. Journal of Community Psychology, 27(3), 315-326; and Wagenaar, A. C., Murray, D. M., Gehan, J. P., Wolfson, M., Forster, J. L., Toomey, T. L., . . . Jones–Webb, R. (2000). Communities mobilizing for change on alcohol: Outcomes from a randomized community trial. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 61, 85–94.