Researchers: Increased emphasis on prevention can pay off

Leslie Leve of the College of Education

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced on Jan. 11 that it is replacing the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices with a new effort.

Leslie Leve, a professor in the UO College of Education, recently co-authored an article with Diane Fishbein, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, suggesting that the health service’s new effort include a focus on prevention-based programs. The article was published by The Hill.

“Health-care expenditures are overwhelmingly directed to treating disorders that could have been prevented; far more investments in prevention are needed,” they write.

Leve and Fishbein identify several rigorously tested interventions that help prevent substance abuse and mental illness.

One is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which reduces the likelihood and severity of schizophrenia diagnosis. Benefits last for at least three years after treatment. The researchers also identify both parenting and school-based programs with documented benefits in preventing adolescent opiate misuse.

“These interventions continue to have benefits years after they are implemented. Most cost less than they save in reduced health care, educational and criminal justice costs,” Leve and Fishbein write. “While treatment will always be needed, prevention significantly reduces the likelihood of developing these serious problems.”

For the full article, see “More effort needs to be on drug prevention, not cure.

Leve works in the department of counseling psychology and human services. Her research focuses on child and adolescent developments and preventative interventions. She is the president of the Society for Prevention Research. Fishbein is the president of the National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives.