In the spring of 2017, the Central Public Health District Coordinating Council (DCC) contracted with Pulse Marketing Agency to conduct two gap analyses – one concerning substance use prevention, and another concerning Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in Somerset and Kennebec counties in Maine.
The DCC needed Pulse to complete this research and a 5-year work plan for each subject within 6 weeks and present the findings to the Central District Coalition. Pulse scheduled multiple focus groups in Augusta, Pittsfield, and Skowhegan for each of the projects. Each focus group lasted between 90 and 120 minutes. The substance use prevention focus groups were conducted with assistance from a representative from the Maine Alliance for Addiction Recovery, and the ACEs focus groups were conducted with assistance from a representative of the Maine Resilience Building Network and THRIVE. These subject matter experts helped us craft key questions and conducted peer review on our final reports.
In an effort to reach a large group of individuals in a rural area, we also developed an online survey and submitted it directly to key individuals and organizations serving the populations being studied.
We also conducted secondary research of other DCCs and health organizations nationwide to learn more about their work on substance use prevention and ACEs.
The research helped us craft comprehensive reports, which included 5-year work plans to help accomplish the following goals:
Substance Use Prevention:
1. Increase the number of schools that use evidence based/best practice programs that promote resilience and healthy decision making. 2. Increase the number of resources available for prevention, treatment, or recovery, which work to reduce stigma. 3. Increase the number of supports for individuals seeking treatment for, or in recovery from substance use disorder or tobacco use.
Adverse Childhood Experiences:
1. Increase the knowledge of the potential health impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) among community members, law enforcement, early educators, businesses, child serving organizations, and other relevant community organizations as well as the responsible use of ACEs screening among clinicians. 2. Increase the number of relevant professionals and community members trained in and utilizing practices that develop resilience.
The Central Public Health District Coordinating Council is now armed with detailed work plans based on evidence-based research and validated by subject matter experts.