Life of an Athlete/NHIAA Evaluation

Dates: 2014-2015

State: New Hampshire

Client(s): New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

Service: Applied Research & Evaluation

Technical Expertise: Substance Use

New Hampshire youth experience one of the highest rates of substance use in the country. Many communities across the state became interested in using an innovative program called Life of an Athlete to prevent and reduce substance use. This program focuses on changing the policies and culture in high school athletic programs as an entry point to changing athlete behavior and ultimately behaviors across the school community. This program had not been evaluated in a systematic manner, however. A local foundation agreed to fund the implementation of the program in schools across the state as long as an evaluation was also conducted. JSI was hired to conduct a process and outcome evaluation of the program to measure whether the program actually "works."

JSI used a participatory approach with the program coordinators to design and conduct the evaluation. Meetings were held twice a month during a year-long process to identify methods, design tools, monitor quality data collection, advise on the data analysis, interpret findings and prepare presentations. The evaluation results showed that there were many positive significant differences between the intervention and control groups in substance use perceptions and behaviors among high school athletes. The findings were used to promote the continuation of funding of this program as well as generally for substance use prevention program funding on a state level.