Nearly 30 years ago, prominent investigators formed a new organization around prevention science – the Society for Prevention Research (SPR). At that time, prevention was not considered a field unto itself, but rather a long-term goal of research that sought to prevent adverse phenomena. There were no academic organizations, degree programs, or dedicated journals. No one self-identified as a prevention scientist, but rather, as an investigator who conducts studies to prevent, for example, substance abuse or child maltreatment. Unlike other societies that customarily emerge from well-established fields, SPR literally propelled the evolution and eventual maturity of the science itself. SPR’s annual meeting provides an essential forum for the exchange of transdisciplinary research across outcomes ranging across behavioral and physical health and academic achievement in all areas of prevention science. The more than 800 multi-disciplinary and international members and attendees of the annual meeting includes scientists, practitioners, advocates, administrators, and policy makers across public health and education. SPR’s journal, Prevention Science, now in its 20th year, is the premier journal for the field of prevention science.
As the field of prevention science matured, a copious body of research was generated on programs, practices and policies that effectively prevent negative outcomes and nurture health and well-being. Evidence has been amassed on how investments in science-based prevention strategies can exert cost-effective, sustainable impacts on a population level. Despite these remarkable successes, however, prevention strategies are chronically underutilized and underfunded.
Embedding a culture of prevention into the mindsets of the public and the decision-making processes of policymakers requires a skilled and well-connected advocacy organization. This is why, in 2014, National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives (NPSC) was formed. The NPSC has nearly 800 scientists, practitioners, educators, community and national organizations, advocates, and clinicians. All are dedicated to improving the reach and impact of prevention science.
NPSC informs national and state policymakers of field-consensual knowledge that has been amassed about the prevention of virtually every common and costly health-related problem. Vehicles for dissemination include congressional briefings, op-eds, policy briefs, white papers, federal and state level projects, meetings with legislators, input into legislative agendas, and partnerships with other national organizations, among others. And most recently, the NPSC has formed and is coordinating the Congressional Prevention Policy Caucus (CPPC) on Capitol Hill, comprised of legislators across the aisle. The CPPC provides a hub for congress to consult with the experts and access the resources from prevention science to aid in their decision-making.
SPR and NPSC have partnered to facilitate translation of the latest prevention science findings for policy and practice. The NPSC Board of Directors includes an SPR representative. The SPR Advocacy Committee includes at least one NPSC Board member. The two organizations support work that meets both missions. For example, the Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC) model was germinated from NPSC and is led by SPR and NPSC members Drs. Max Crowley and Taylor Scott. RPC is building skills among the research community on how to work collaboratively with policymakers to enact evidence-based policies. SPR is the engine of prevention science and practice and NPSC moves the engine forward for the wide-scale adoption of prevention science.
The SPR leadership encourages its members to JOIN THE NPSC and NPSC encourages you to JOIN SPR (if not already members) to become engaged in the translational process that NPSC has established. By connecting with the NPSC network of science-to-policy experts, you can advance your own work and establish prevention science as a foundational building block for indelible, real-world impacts.
Dr. Diana Fishbein
Dr. Guillermo Prado