Quantitative data are usually reported numerically—often as counts or percentages. These data may help you identify the extent of substance misuse and abuse in your community, the related consequences, and the areas and groups most affected by the problem.
Data on consumption patterns describe substance misuse and abuse in terms of the frequency or amount used. For example:
- Percentage of youth ages 12–17 reporting current (within the past 30 days) use of alcohol
- Percentage of young adults ages 18–21 reporting binge drinking in the past year
- Percentage of young adults ages 16–21 reporting drinking and driving in the past year
Data on consequences (the social, economic, and health problems associated with alcohol misuse and abuse, including increased mortality, morbidity, injury, school dropout, and crime)27 can help you better understand the alcohol misuse and abuse issue in your community.
Quantitative data may be mined or gathered from a number of sources:
- National or state public health surveys, such as the Massachusetts Youth Health Survey and the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey
Note: Local data specific to your community may not be as readily available as state or national data. When collecting data from your local target area, it’s ideal to use the same questions and wording as used in the national and state surveys, whenever possible, in order to standardize data collection and allow for comparisons across different areas.
- Interviews and/or focus groups
- Public safety data (e.g., fire department data on emergency medical services for alcohol-related injury)
- Records from public meetings or forums
- Law enforcement data and police reports (e.g., alcohol-related arrests, including juvenile arrests and DUIs)
- Department of Justice data (e.g., outcomes of criminal cases related to alcohol misuse)
- School incident and discipline reports
- Hospital data (e.g., discharge codes for alcohol-related admittances)
- Emergency department admittances
See Archival and Survey Data Sources for Underage Drinking: A Community Data Checklist for more suggestions.
Qualitative data are usually reported in words. Sources of qualitative data include key stakeholder interviews, focus groups, case studies, and observation. These data may help you gain a deeper understanding of the substance misuse and abuse problem in your community by offering insight into the beliefs, attitudes, and values of various stakeholders. Common methods for obtaining qualitative data include key stakeholder interviews, focus groups, case studies, and testimonials.
When collecting qualitative data, it is important to use methods that are culturally competent and appropriate. For example:
- When developing your interview or focus group guide, carefully review all questions to make sure that they will not be perceived as too personal or inappropriate
- Consider any translation needs
- Make sure that the interviewers or group facilitators reflect the composition of the group being interviewed
- Select an accessible meeting space
- Consider providing childcare if needed