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Violence Prevention and Control
Research and Programmatic Efforts in Minnesota:
The Next Step

METHODS and MATERIALS

A needs assessment was conducted to identify the number and nature of research and programmatic efforts addressing violence prevention and control in Minnesota. The needs assessment was designed to serve several functions: 1) to create a research agenda with community-oriented priorities; 2) to avoid duplication of efforts across programs; and 3) to facilitate research by identifying potential research partners and data sources.

Sampling

Because there was no adequate listing of violence prevention and control efforts in the state, the first task was to develop a comprehensive listing of potentially relevant programs using snowball sampling (Johnson et al., 1989). Snowball sampling is particularly well suited to identify "hidden populations," (Van Meter, 1990) rather than extracting a representative subset. Specifically, all known contacts in the violence prevention and control community were queried about their colleagues and other program contacts, who were subsequently asked about their program, their colleagues, and other program contacts, etc. Through this technique, 445 programs throughout the state were identified (Appendix A).

Selection Criteria

For inclusion in the final study population, each research and programmatic effort had to meet at least one of the following selection criteria: 1) the program had at least one full-time equivalent staff person, or 2) the program had specific funding allocated to violence prevention and control. These criteria assured that the study population consisted of currently active groups that were specifically focused on violence prevention and control.

Data Collection Instrument

To understand the nature of current research and programmatic efforts, respondents were asked about the issues and populations their program addressed, and the types of program activities involved. Current literature (Mercy et al., 1993; Metzger and Strand, 1993; Moore, 1993) and expert focus groups were used to create operational definitions and data collection instrument items. A copy of this instrument is provided in Appendix B of this report.

Respondents were first asked for the name and address of their program and sponsoring agency(ies). They were then asked how many full time equivalent (FTE) persons were working with violence prevention efforts and whether, or not, they had specific funding for these efforts. These latter questions were used to identify those programs that were actively committing resources to violence prevention efforts. Those respondents who said that their programs had no FTEs and did not have specific funding were asked to return the data collection instrument without answering the remaining items. Those who had one or more FTEs, or specific funding, were asked about the issues they addressed, the populations served, the types of programs, and the strategies used. Respondents were also asked about their research and evaluation-related activities.

Program issues were defined broadly and included diverse items such as bias crime, child abuse and neglect, adult rape or sexual abuse, and gang violence. Populations served were characterized in multiple ways including: age; gender; status as public, volunteer or professional; perpetrators or victims; families or communities. Program types included varied activities such as: health care; social services; housing; legal assistance; education; and research.

Using a public health framework, program strategies were categorized by level of prevention: primary; secondary; and tertiary (Metzger and Strand, 1993). Definitions of these terms were presented in the data collection instrument. Primary prevention was defined as efforts to prevent violence from occurring in the first place. Secondary prevention was defined as efforts to stop violence as early as possible, before it became a major threat to human health or safety. Tertiary prevention was defined as efforts to control effects of existing violence that is a threat to human health or safety.

To identify the extent to which programs can verify the impact of their program, respondents were asked if their programs used written goals and objectives, and written evaluation plans. They were also asked to describe any documented effects from their program as well as to describe any research efforts.

Respondent Follow-up

In order to increase response rates and produce the most inclusive view of current research and programmatic violence prevention activities, an aggressive follow-up process was employed. When potential programs were nominated for inclusion into the study, an initial data collection instrument was mailed and the names, addresses, and telephone numbers for contact personnel were entered into the study database. Response dates were entered as the instruments were returned. Those who did not respond received follow-up telephone calls. During the telephone calls, eligibility status of the program was determined. When necessary, new data collection instruments were mailed or faxed to potential respondents.

Data Analysis

All data were keypunched and verified. Computer application, utilizing the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, facilitated the data analysis.


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