By identifying the types and the extent of substance misuse and abuse, and the populations and areas most affected, you can better understand the actual problem in your community.
Examine the quantitative data you have collected to see if specific groups of people or other factors stand out. HealthyPeople 202028 defines health disparity as “a health outcome [that] is seen in a greater or lesser extent between populations”
Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.
Do any of your data suggest a particular impact on a group or subpopulation who may be vulnerable to health disparities? For example:
· Is alcohol more accessible and available in a specific urban neighborhood vs. another?
· Are there gender differences in use patterns or with respect to risk and protective factors?29
If quantitative data are available for multiple years, then examining trend data may suggest factors that influence substance misuse and abuse and/or intervening variables.
Example: If there was a sharp rise in binge drinking in the past year, what happened or what changed that may explain this? Did your community see an influx of an at-risk population? Was there a decrease in retail access initiatives?
Examine local data in relation to state data to determine if there may be something unique or unusual about the community associated with substance misuse or its intervening variables. Is there something different about the problem in your community? Does the difference point to an intervening variable that may be important, or perhaps to a strategy to consider later in the process?
The first step when analyzing qualitative data is to read and reread the materials you have gathered (e.g., key stakeholder interviews, focus group notes, answers to open-ended survey questions) and identify the different themes that emerge for each question. To increase confidence in the process, it is best to have two or more people do this independently. The themes generated by each coder are then compared. If the themes identified by coders differ, the coders need to reconcile their views and reach consensus.
Record and report comments for each theme (verbatim responses or quotes may be preferred) and count the number of respondents who mentioned each theme. This is a good indicator of the importance of a particular theme to participants. In addition, be sure to note the passion and strength of respondents’ comments, which is likewise important.
Compare quantitative data with qualitative data or vice versa to see if they reinforce one another or raise new questions. Do any of the qualitative data shed additional insight into why the problem exists or who experiences it?
Analyzing the data you collected during the assessment process will help you answer a key question: “Why are substance misuse and abuse happening here?” This may help you select strategies that get to the unique root causes of substance misuse and abuse in your community.