The Prevention Research Center (PRC) of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation was founded in 1983 and is located in Oakland, California. PRC is one of twenty-seven (27) national centers funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and is the only one that specializes in prevention of alcohol misuse and related problems.
Our mission is to conduct basic and applied research into the social and physical environments that affect the etiology of alcohol, drug, and tobacco use and other health-related behaviors, the social ecological contexts in which these behaviors take place, and the risks related to those contexts. This research naturally leads to the development and testing of innovative prevention programs and policies that can be implemented at local, state, and national levels. Research at the Center focuses upon improving our understanding of these environments, supports efficacy studies to determine the effects, safety, and costs of environmental preventive interventions under optimal conditions, and promotes studies to test the effectiveness, safety and costs of new interventions under natural conditions.
We take a multidisciplinary approach to prevention research that emphasizes integration across levels of explanation from the biological to the behavioral and social sciences to enhance our understanding of the impacts of environments on problems. PRC's continued interest in theoretical integration across levels of explanation and fields of study leads to the development and application of feasible and effective policies and programs for the reduction of health-related problems.
The research focus at PRC includes studies of families, the workplace, drinking venues, as well as global studies of the impacts of state and national policy problems. Our research questions are both micro- and macro-ecological in nature. For example, at the micro-level we consider the momentary day-to-day conditions that affect underage access to alcohol, use, and problems. At the macro-level we consider regional social and economic processes that couple alcohol outlets to problems.
The scope and magnitude of these processes are just now beginning to be understood. In our current NIAAA Center Grant we take advantage of a unique opportunity to assess the outcomes of, and examine the scientific bases for, community-based environmental preventive interventions on youth and young adult drinking. We also examine the social and behavioral mechanisms by which the routine drinking activities of parents lead to maladaptive parenting practices and child abuse and neglect. This research draws upon mixed methods that integrate qualitative and quantitative data, ecological momentary assessments with survey data, survey data with archival ecological measures, and capitalizes on survey and archival methods for evaluation research. Finally, we continue our focus on providing education and dissemination activities suitably directed at the community level, building upon our strengths in community based preventive intervention research.
Since PRC's inception as an NIAAA Center, we have expanded into new areas of health outcomes research including studies of tobacco use, reproductive health, diabetes, and health disparities using a socio-ecological model to better understand micro and macro level environmental risk factors affecting these outcomes.