Welcome to the One Step@a Time glossary!

In the following glossary, you will find the most representative terms and acronyms mentioned in One Step@a Time.

You can locate a term by reviewing the word list or using the following search tool.

Words that are defined in the glossary are indicated in the application by One Step@a Time when your mouse cursor passes over them. When you select a term, a short definition appears.



Adaptating interventions (or programmes). Modifying, while still preserving the original elementary principles, the various components of a previously designed intervention (or programme), to be implemented in a new population in a new context.

Adapted from: Burkhart, 2013 and Ferrer-Wreder, 2012.


AWS. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome.



Cessation. Phase of a drug addiction treatment that aims to overcome psychological dependence. It focuses on recognising behavioural patterns typical of drug dependence and acquiring skills that empower the person to modify their lifestyle and successfully face situations that cause the risk of relapse.


CICAD. Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission.


Community. Group of individuals organised into a unit, or who share some unifying characteristic or common interest. In the social-health arena, it refers to the population of a locality, area or region in which certain services are provided or carried out.

Taken from: Alonso, 2004.


Confusion variables. Variables that are associated with the independent variable (the intervention) and the dependent variable (the effect of the intervention) and that introduce biases, that is, systematic variations in the measurement of the results in relation to their real value.

Adapted from: Pineault, 1987.


Control group. A group which, in an outcomes evaluation design, does not receive the intervention and which is used to compare the results observed with those of the intervention group.

Adapted from: Alonso, 2004 and Nebot, 2011.


Coverage. The number or proportion of the target population and/or the intermediary population reached (with an intervention).


DDR. Drug demand reduction


Determinants. The set of personal, social, financial and environmental factors that affect the individual or population’s state of health.

Taken from: WHO, 1998


Detoxification. Phase of the treatment for a drug addiction that aims to overcome physical dependence. That is, to prevent the person from experiencing withdrawal syndrome when he or she stops using the substance. This stage is not always necessary, as not all drugs generate physical dependence, and not everyone with drug dependence has withdrawal symptoms.


Effectiveness. Effects of an intervention in a natural context, i.e., under real and everyday conditions.


Efficacy. Effects of an intervention in an experimental (or laboratory) context, i.e., when conditions for the intervention are ideal.


Efficacious. See "Efficacy". 


EMCDDA. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.


Evaluation. Procedure or set of procedures that enable the value of a programme, intervention, action or policy to be assessed. A process that attempts to systematically and objectively determine the relevance, efficacy, effectiveness or impact of certain activities in the light of its objectives.

Taken from: Alonso, 2004.



General objective. Statement of the expected results of an intervention in terms of the problem it acts on. It should be consistent with the mission and with the specific objectives and provide the direction to the intervention.

Adapted from: Alonso, 2004.


General objectives. See “General objective”.


HCV. Hepatitis C virus.

HIV. Human immunodeficiency virus.


Impact. Net effect attributable to the effects of an action, intervention or programme (for example, on health status and socioeconomic development).

Taken from: Alonso, 2004.


Incidence. The number of new cases of a particular phenomenon or disease occurring in a defined population in a given time interval. It is usually expressed as an incidence rate, with the number of cases in the numerator and the population at risk in the denominator.

Adapted from: Alonso, 2004.


Indicated Prevention. Prevention aimed at individuals who use drugs, but without having problems of dependence, or individuals with psychological or behavioural problems that may be predictive of future problematic drug use.


Indicator. Characteristic of an individual, population or environment that can be measured (directly or indirectly) and which can be used to describe one or more aspects of that individual or population. It allows changes after a period of time with respect to an initial situation to be measured and contributes to the understanding of an event. 

Adapted from: Alonso, 2004 and WHO, 1998.


Indicators. See "Indicator".


Intermediary population. People, groups or other units who act as mediators in an intervention, with the aim of intervening directly in the target population or facilitating the target population participation in intervention activities. The intermediary population and the people implementing the intervention (intervention agents) are sometimes the same population. It also known as the intermediate population.

Adapted from: Alonso, 2004.


Internal validity. Ability of an investigation to rule out possible biases that could mask alternative explanations for the results observed (and therefore not due to the intervention).

Adapted from: Nebot, 2011.


Intervention group. Group receiving the intervention in an outcome evaluation design.




Leadership. Set of support, guidance and influence abilities of a person, group or community to achieve a goal.


Lifestyle (health-related). Clusters of behaviours that are more or less organised, coherent, complex and stable, strongly influenced by the social context, that can exert a profound effect on the health of a person and those who surround them.

Adapted from: Alonso, 2004 and costa, 2008.


Logical model (of planning). Graphic description of a programme or activity that illustrates its components and the plausible relationships between them. Also called a "logical framework", it is a tool to facilitate the process of conceptualising, designing, executing and evaluating interventions.

Adapted from: Alonso, 2004.



Modelling. Learning process based on the observation of a model that acts as a transmitter of thoughts, attitudes or behaviours to the individual or group observing the model’s implementation.


Morbidity. The number of people who are ill due to drug use in a specific period of time.


Mortality. The number of people who die due to drug use in a specific period of time.


Need. Difference between what exists and what is desirable in terms of state of health, services or resources.

Taken from: Alonso, 2004.


Needs. See "Need".


NIDA. National Institute on Drug Abuse (U.S. Agency).


OSMP. Opiate Substitutes Maintenance programmes.


Outcome evaluation. Procedure that assesses the effects of an intervention or programme, establishing whether the expected objectives set at the beginning of the planning process have been achieved after implementation. It allows conclusions to be drawn with regard to the intervention potential future improvements to be formulated.

Taken from: COPOLAD, 2012.


Outcome evaluation design. Specific procedures and methods in a research study focused on describing and analysing the effects achieved by an intervention.

Adapted from: Alonso, 2004.


PAHO. Pan American Health Organization.


Prevalence. Number of cases exhibiting a particular characteristic, behaviour, problem or disease in a given population and at a given time. Expressed as a proportion. The cases that exhibit the characteristic are the numerator and the total population in which the cases are included is the denominator.

Taken from: Alonso, 2004.


Process evaluation. Procedure that focuses on describing how a programme or intervention has been carried out and whether it has followed the proposed implementation plan. It examines whether the procedures implemented during the intervention adhere to the plan, enabling a clear idea of what has actually happened during the intervention to be obtained. It also enables the accuracy, coverage and quality of an intervention to be estimated.

Adapted from: COPOLAD, 2012 and Alonso, 2004.


Programme. Structured intervention designed to change social, physical, financial or political conditions in a defined geographical area or population. This equates to "project" and "intervention" in One Step@a Time.

Taken from: Alonso, 2004.


Professional skills. Skills and abilities required to carry out a professional activity.

Project. Set of actions and activities to achieve certain objectives, carried out within the framework of a programme and with a smaller scope than the latter. This is equated to "programme" and "intervention" in One Step@a Time.

Taken from: Alonso, 2004.


Projects.  See "Project".


Protection factor (for drug use) see “Protection factors (for drug use)”.


Protection factors (for drug use). Individual, social and environmental conditions that empirical evidence has shown to modulate the effect of risk factors, reducing the likelihood of initiating or sustaining drug use. Associated with desirable health outcomes.

Adapted from: EMCDDA, 2011; Salvador, 2010 and Sloboda, 2012.


Qualitative methods. Intervention research or analysis procedures that attempt to understand a phenomenon by generating narrative data through techniques such as interviews, observation, documentary analysis, etc.

Adapted from: Navarrete, 2006.


Quantitative methods. Intervention research or analysis procedures that attempt to establish the dimensions of a phenomenon by generating numerical data through techniques such as surveys, measurements, etc.

Adapted from: Navarrete, 2006.


Random allocation. Random assignment of individuals (or other sample units) to an intervention group or a control group.

Adapted from: Alonso, 2004.


Reliability. The degree to which a measure produces the same result when it is applied repeatedly by different observers and in different locations.

Taken from: Alonso, 2004.


Representative sample. A segment of a population with similar characteristics to the whole population of which they form a part.

Adapted from: Alonso, 2004.


Risk factor (for drug use). See “Risk factors (for drug use)”. 


Risk factors (for drug use). Individual, social and environmental conditions that empirical evidence has shown to increase the likelihood of initiating or sustaining drug use. Associated with undesirable health outcomes.

Adapted from: EMCDDA, 2011; Salvador, 2010 and Sloboda, 2012.


SAMHSA. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (U.S. Agency).


Selective prevention. Prevention aimed at specific groups of the population, defined by their greater exposure to risk factors for substance abuse with respect to their peers.


SEP. Syringe exchange programme.


Social capital. Degree of social cohesion in the community. This refers to the processes between people that establish networks, norms and social commitments, and facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit and orientated towards the achievement of common goals.

Adapted from: WHO, 1998.


Specific objective. Manifestation of the general objective, characterised as measurable, feasible, concrete, with reference in time and relevant to the target population and the outcomes evaluated in the study or intervention.

Taken from: Alonso, 2004.


Specific objectives. See “Specific objective”.


Stakeholders. People, groups or organisations with interest and/or influence in the intervention. In the field of drug demand reduction, they may be: mass media, community leaders, religious leaders, schools, sport, health, social or youth centres, federations, foundations, associations, communities, volunteers, private sector companies, government agencies, etc.


Sustainability. Likelihood that an intervention (or programme) continues beyond a given period of time, especially after the main sources of initial funding have disappeared.

Taken from: Alonso, 2004.


Target population. A group of people to whom an intervention is directed and, therefore, in whom the changes due to intervention are desired. It is also known as the beneficiary population or the final population.

Adapted from: Alonso, 2004.


Universal prevention. Prevention aimed at the general population or sectors of it, irrespective of the different levels of vulnerability or exposure to the risk factors of the individuals that make up the population subject to intervention.


UNODC. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.


USA. United States of America.


Validity. Degree to which a measure of a particular construct actually reflects that construct. Degree to which the results of a study are true or correct. 

Taken from: Alonso, 2004.


WHO. World Health Organization








Alonso C, Salvador T, Suelves JM et al. (2004). Prevención de la A a la Z. Glosario sobre prevención del abuso de drogas [Prevention from A to Z. A glossary for drug abuse prevention]. Madrid: Centro de Estudios sobre Promoción de la Salud.


COPOLAD: Cooperation Programme between Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union. (2012). Estudio para la definición de criterios de acreditación en reducción de la demanda de drogas [Study to define accreditation criteria in drug demand reduction]. COPOLAD framework, Activity 3.4.4.


Costa M and López E. (2008). Educación para la salud: guía práctica para promover estilos de vida saludable [Education for health: practical guide to promote health lifestyles]. Madrid: Ediciones Pirámide


Burkhart G. (2013). North American Drug Prevention Programmes: Are they feasible in European cultures and contexts? EMCDDA. Luxembourg: Publication Office of the European Union.


EMCDDA. (2011). European Drug Prevention Quality Standards. A manual for prevention professionals. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.


Ferrer-Wreder L, Sundell K and Mansoory S. (2012). Tinkering with perfection: Theory development in the intervention cultural adaptation field. Child and Youth Care Forum. 41: 149-171


Navarrete ML, Rejane M, Mogollón A et al. (2006). Introducción a las técnicas cualitativas de investigación aplicadas en salud [Introduction to qualitative research techniques applied to health]. Cursos GRAAL 5. Bellaterra: Servei de Publicacions, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.


Nebot M, López MJ, Ariza C et al. (2011). Evaluación de la efectividad en salud pública: fundamentos conceptuales y metodológicos [Evaluation of effectiveness in public health: conceptual and methodological foundations]. Gaceta Sanitaria. 25 (Supl.1): 3-8


World Health Organization. (1998). Health Promotion Glossary. Geneva: OMS.


Pineault R and Daveluy C (1987). La planificación sanitaria. Conceptos, métodos y estrategias [Health planning. Concepts, methods and strategies]. Barcelona: Masson.


Salvador T and De Silva A. (2010). Guía de Buenas prácticas y calidad en la prevención de drogodependencias de la Comunidad de Autónoma de la Región de Murcia [Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia: Guide to good practice and quality in drug dependence prevention]. Consejería de Sanidad y Consumo. Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.


Sloboda Z, Glantz M and Tarter R. (2012). Revisiting the concepts of risk and protective factors for understanding the etiology and development of substance use and substance use disorders: implications for prevention. Substance Use & Misuse. 47:944–962.