Beginning in January 2009, the South Suburban Family Wellness Alliance (SSFWA) began collecting data for its community-wide needs assessment to determine the alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) prevention priorities as they relate to underage drinking and marijuana use and behavioral health in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Current needs assessment data was collected to answer the following questions:
What is the nature and extent of underage drinking and marijuana use in the community? What specific age groups are impacted the most?
What are the community risk and protective factors associated with these issues (i.e., retail and social access to alcohol, enforcement of alcohol laws, perceived risk of harm and social norms about underage drinking, promotion of use, and pricing.)?
What are the harmful consequences of underage drinking and marijuana use in the Chicago Height community?
What are the existing prevention efforts? What is the most critical gap in prevention services (i.e., community resource and readiness assessment)? What evidence-based prevention
approaches are needed to address this gap?
A mixed-methods approach (i.e., multiple data sources and data collection strategies) was integrated into the needs assessment. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected and analyzed. Despite considerable attempts, some data were not available at the community level— which limited the sub-group analyses. The primary goals of the needs assessment was to:
Identify prevention priorities to guide development of problem statements, goals, and objectives for
the Community-wide Strategic Prevention Plan.
Define the coalition’s primary targeted community and boundaries (neighborhood, county, city, etc.).
Reconstruct and build on the relevant local history of community mobilization and anti-drug work.
Collect quantitative data from partners and outside sources, including related archival and survey data.
Data Collection Strategies and Tools
The primary methodologies used to capture data for the needs assessment included student surveys, observational data (i.e., bar and retail establishment observations), document reviews of
local ordinance and other law enforcement data.
Illinois Youth Survey
The Illinois Youth Survey (IYS) was used to assess the nature and extent of underage drinking in the community. The IYS is a self-report survey that is usually administered to students in 6th grade, 8th grade, and high school (10th and 12th grades) every 2 years. The IYS is designed to measuring use and prevalence of alcohol, marijuana and other drugs among students and
includes measures for various risk and protective factors across four domains: community, peer/individual, family, and school. Demographic items captured through the survey include
gender, ethnicity, and grade in school.