Enhancing Prevention through Technical Assistance: What a Research Synthesis Tells Us

Abraham Wandersman, University of South Carolina

Behavioral health problems are widely known to affect one in five people in the Unites States, with 75% of lifetime cases of mental illness beginning by age 24. A 2015 Institute of Medicine report, Unleashing the Power of Prevention, calls for reducing the prevalence of behavioral health problems among young people by 20% in the next decade through evidence-based programs. 

However, despite the wide availability of these evidence-based programs, such as Nurse-Family Partnership and funder investment in them, gaps exist in bringing these programs into widespread practice. Technical assistance (TA) is an individualized, hands-on approach to building the capacity of organizations and communities to use these programs with fidelity. A drawback is the lack of research and consensus about the essential features of technical assistance and how to provide it with quality.

Technical Assistance to Enhance Prevention Capacity: A Research Synthesis of the Evidence Base synthesizes the current research on TA delivery and calls for an explicit model or organizing framework to plan, organize, and implement quality TA and evaluate its impact. It suggests that funders and other stakeholders develop and implement standards for TA quality to ensure that many of these limitations are addressed, leading ultimately to reduced behavioral health problems in young people.


Jason Katz
Senior Researcher