STAGE 4. Selecting the theoretical approach

What steps should be completed?

Step 1: Select the theoretical approach or approaches on which the intervention will be based


It is advisable to take into account the following when selecting a theoretical model (approach):

1. The nature of the problem in which you plan to intervene. Each drug problem determines the most appropriate type of action to implement; preventive, risk reduction, treatment, harm reduction or social inclusion. It is useful to review the theoretical models (approaches) according to the type of intervention that is going to be carried out.

2. The population needs detected. It is advisable to review the needs detected in the intervention’s target population to identify the factors that should be changed. For example, the variables that should be worked on in an intervention aimed at the general population will be different from those that would be covered by an intervention with at-risk subgroups or with a population of drug users. Individual and group interventions also involve different models (approaches) from community interventions.

3. The target population. It is important to understand the characteristics of the target population (socioeconomic status, living conditions, lifestyles, age, etc.) to choose a good theoretical approach. There are theoretical models (approaches) whose determinants may make them more appropriate to work on interventions directed at specific populations (selective or indicated) than to the universal population, as would be the case of the risk reduction model (approach).

4. The objectives that have been defined in the intervention. The different theoretical approaches point out some ideas to achieve changes in the population concerned; therefore, depending on the changes you wish to achieve, some approaches will be more suitable than others.

5. The area where the intervention is planned. The effectiveness of the different theoretical approaches has been explored in specific areas of action. It is advisable to review the available approaches according to where they are implemented: school, family, work, etc.

6. The empirical evidence available for each theoretical approach. The evidence for each model (approach) offers information about the ability of certain strategies to achieve change. Reviewing the concurrence between the practical implications offered by the different theoretical approaches and the actions planned in your intervention can help you decide which approach is most appropriate for your intervention. This will also enable you to justify the actions you will define in the action plan (Stage 5 of One Step@a Time).