Mission, Strategy and Goals
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism-funded national research Center Grant, “Environmental Approaches to Prevention,” enabled the founding of the Prevention Research Center in 1985 and continues to lead in the development of core PRC research programs in the 21st Century. Over those years, the Center Grant has contributed in a number of other ways to the overall research program at PRC; these especially include maintenance of core funding for administrative, computational, and library research resources, the maintenance of software systems for mathematical and statistical modeling, and extensive support facilities for qualitative data collection and analysis.
PRC’s research program is designed to include research at a variety of levels of aggregation and complexity. The Component Directors are committed to the development of integrated archival and individual level data acquisition approaches in all components of the planned studies.
Director: Paul J. Gruenewald, Ph.D.
Environmental Approaches to Prevention
The “Environmental Approaches to Prevention” Research Center has been continuously funded for 36 years by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to investigate environmental causes and correlates of alcohol use, abuse, and alcohol-related problems in communities in the United States. The current Center grant round includes interrelated projects designed to further enhance our understanding of the role that social and physical environments play in determining how people use alcohol and the kinds of problems they experience related to alcohol in community settings.
Communities across the US are increasingly aware of the health and social problems related to alcohol use. Alcohol related traffic crashes, of course, are a visible and well-known consequence of the risky or inappropriate use of alcohol. Other costly problems related to alcohol use include other accidental injuries, child abuse and neglect, interpersonal violence, risky sexual behaviors, underage use and problems related to underage drinking, addiction and chronic disease. Throughout its history, PRC research projects have defined the cutting edge of scientific efforts to design novel environmental approaches to the reduction of alcohol-related problems through changes in the economic, social and physical environments in which people drink. PRC researchers recognize that these social environments have a major influence on individual behaviors and alcohol problems throughout the life course. Changing these environments for the better, we can improve public health and well-being and save lives.
Research Goals and Activities
In its current five-year grant, PRC is focusing upon identifying:
- Those individual-environment interactions that accelerate and maintain underage drinking and problem
- The environmental conditions that lead to high-risk drinking among Mexican American and other young adults living near the Mexican-American border
- Social contexts of drinking that encourage or protect drinkers from progressing to problem drinking and alcohol use disorder
- Large-scale social processes that support drinking and problems across US communities
- Effective mechanisms by which to provide communities with information and guidance to create healthy drinking environments
- Practical information for communities, policy makers, and the public
See the sidebar for details on projects addressing these topic of research.