Questions and Answers

Below we provide short answers to common questions concerning EDPQS. If you can’t find the information you are looking for, please feel free to contact us.

Click on questions below to jump to the relevant answer. You can also read through the entire page to deepen your knowledge and understanding concerning the EDPQS (recommended for EDPQS trainers and EDPQS champions).

What do we mean by …

Basic questions about EDPQS

Official status of EDPQS

EDPQS vs. other quality standards

Using the EDPQS: who, how and why

EDPQS in the real world of prevention policy & practice

The costs of using EDPQS

Training and support, certification and accreditation

Promoting the EDPQS: presentation, translation, adaptation, copyright

Applying the EDPQS to other fields

The science behind EDPQS

 


 

What do we mean by …

What does the acronym “EDPQS” stand for?

EDPQS stands for European Drug Prevention Quality Standards.

The idea behind the EDPQS project was to develop standards based on a European consensus that would help to assess and develop the quality of activities seeking to prevent drug use and related harms. For more information about the background to the EDPQS, please visit the Phase I project page.

At first, the EDPQS were referred to as “prevention standards” or “European standards”. Over the years, however, the acronym “EDPQS” established itself as the preferred nickname in different languages. It is pronounced “ee-dee-pee-kju-ess”.

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What definition of “quality” is used in the EDPQS?

According to the EDPQS, high quality prevention activities are those which are:

  • Relevant (focus on responding to the needs of the target population whilst making reference to relevant policy);
  • Ethical (incorporate the principles of ethical conduct);
  • Evidence-based (make use of the best available scientific and practice-based evidence);
  • Evidence-providing (help to inform and develop new or similar activities);
  • (Cost)Effective (achieve set goals and objectives without causing harm and with appropriate use of resources);
  • Feasible (achievable with available resources and developed with an internally consistent logic);
  • Sustainable (sufficiently resourced to ensure they can continue as long as necessary in order to respond to the target population needs)

Consequently, “quality” according to the EDPQS includes more than, for example, effectiveness or participant satisfaction.

You can read more about this in the EDPQS Position Paper.

See also:

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What definition of “drug prevention” is used in the EDPQS?

The EDPQS Position Paper describes what understanding of “drug prevention” informed the development of the EDPQS:

  1. Drug prevention is an activity with the potential for preventing, delaying or reducing drug use, and/or its negative consequences. Drug prevention activities can target whole populations, subpopulations, or individuals.
  2. Drug prevention activities can target legal drugs (e.g. alcohol, tobacco), illegal drugs, pharmaceutical products, and other substances such as image and performance enhancing drugs.
  3. Drug prevention activities may work to reduce risk and build protective factors known to influence drug use. They may target common factors that affect or reduce vulnerability for drug use and drug use problems or promote healthy development and resilience in general.
  4. Drug prevention activities are commonly thought of as being most relevant to young people, as this is where most research and activity is concentrated. However, prevention is equally relevant to all age groups.
  5. Drug prevention takes places across multiple levels of society, including at individual and interpersonal levels; in family and social groups, organisations, and institutions; in communities; and at a public policy level.

Each of these points is explored further in the position paper. The paper also clarifies that this is not intended as a normative definition (i.e. specifying what drug prevention should be or what activities are classified as drug prevention), but is provided simply to explain what kinds of activities might benefit from using and adhering to the EDPQS.

To learn more about our understanding of drug prevention, please consult the EDPQS Position Paper.

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What is specifically “European” about the EDPQS?

The EDPQS were developed specifically to offer a joint European framework on quality in drug prevention. This was achieved by:

  1. basing the EDPQS primarily on European documents (12 out of 19 source documents used to develop the EDPQS originated in Europe); and
  2. conducting consultations with prevention professionals in six European countries representing different drug use patterns, (professional) cultures, national structures and approaches to drug prevention (check our Phase I project page to find out more).

The EDPQS therefore reflect a European perspective on what is considered feasible and desirable in relation to the quality of drug prevention activities.

The EDPQS could also be relevant to other parts of the world, but it is likely that they would need to be adapted before they are meaningfully understood and applied in practice. This has been done, for example, in South America, where the EDPQS formed the basis for developing regional quality criteria for prevention work. EDPQS Toolkit 4 includes guidance on how to adapt the EDPQS to different geographical contexts.

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Basic questions about EDPQS

What do the EDPQS contain?

The EDPQS contain statements that describe what a high quality drug prevention activity looks like.

By doing so, the EDPQS help to standardise our understanding of what high quality means in relation to drug prevention, provide us with a vision of high quality drug prevention, as well as a benchmark with which to compare existing prevention projects.

The EDPQS Manual and Toolkits do not provide a ‘step by step’ guide on how to develop a new initiative and they do not tell you which prevention approach to choose (there are other resources that can do that, see the Related activities page). Instead, the EDPQS suggest a framework and structure that you can use to develop your ideas, and they provide guidance on aspects that you might think about when developing your work.

You can find out more about the EDPQS on our introductory page.

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How are the EDPQS structured?

The EDPQS are structured according to three levels of detail:

  • Project stages arranged in a project cycle
  • Within the project stages: Quality components
  • Within the components: Attributes of quality

You can find the EDPQS in the Manual, where each chapter corresponds to one project stage. Colour-coded tables and side tabs will help you to easily identify which project stage you are looking at.

You can find out more about the different levels (and view the project cycle) on our introductory page.

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The contents of the EDPQS look quite familiar – is there anything special or innovative about them?

The EDPQS look familiar because they represent a summary of existing regional and national quality standards from Europe and beyond, as well as other ‘best practice’ documents (see our EDPQS Phase I project page to find out more about how the EDPQS were developed).

But that is also what makes the EDPQS special – they represent one comprehensive resource covering a broad range of aspects relevant to quality. Few other standards offer the breadth and detail that you will find in the EDPQS.

Innovative elements within the EDPQS include the ‘implementation considerations’ that are provided in the Manual for each standard component on the basis of face-to-face consultations with prevention professionals; as well as the way in which the standards are arranged in an 8-step project cycle.

The EDPQS are also supported by a range of practical toolkits, including freely available training materials and adaptation guidelines, which are not usually provided for other quality standards.

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The EDPQS seem quite theoretical – how relevant are they in practice?

Once you start using the EDPQS, you will quickly discover that the contents are very relevant to prevention practice. See also our Examples of use page for real-life examples of practical application.

Sometimes people describe quality standards as ‘theoretical’ because standards demand a level of quality that – although desirable in theory – is considered unachievable in practice. It is therefore important to distinguish the relevance of quality standards from their (current) feasibility. In other words, a standard may be relevant but not currently achievable. The emphasis is placed on the word ‘currently’ to remind us that the feasibility of quality standards can be actively increased, for example by developing funding and training structures to better support quality.

Recognising that implementation of quality standards requires support from the top down, several initiatives (e.g. UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention, Minimum quality standards for drug demand reduction interventions in the EU) have explicitly engaged national-level policy-makers to advocate for better prevention delivery structures (see also our Related activities page).

“Quality” is a long-term aim. Even if high quality is not currently attainable, this is no reason to accept poor quality prevention. The quality of prevention activities can only be improved by working towards the goal of high quality.

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What are the aims of drug prevention according to the EDPQS?

The EDPQS themselves do not prescribe any specific aims for drug prevention. EDPQS Standard 3.3 “Defining aims, goals, and objectives” requires prevention professionals to make explicit what they are trying to prevent. The EDPQS further specify that the aims of drug prevention activities should be informed by a needs assessment, useful for the target population, and in accordance with professional and ethical principles (EDPQS 3.3.4) (see the Manual).

The EDPQS Position Paper explains which definition of drug prevention informed the work on the EDPQS. According to the Position Paper, the overall aims of drug prevention should be to “reduce adverse health or social outcomes, and to improve population wellbeing” (p. 6). For further details, please see the EDPQS Position Paper.

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Where can I find the EDPQS?

All EDPQS resources (in English and other languages) can be found here.

You can find the full list of quality standards only in our Manual. There you will also find practice considerations, a glossary of technical prevention terminology and much more.

However, you don’t have to read the Manual in order to benefit from the EDPQS:

The Quick Guide contains a summary of the standards; in the EDPQS Toolkit 2 we have summarised the standards as questions for service managers, programme developers and front-line practitioners; and EDPQS Toolkit 1 summarises key messages arising from the EDPQS for policy-makers, commissioners and funders.

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In what languages are the EDPQS available?

EDPQS resources are available in over ten languages, including Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, English, French, Hungarian, Macedonian, Polish, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. Translations in Czech, German, Greek and Italian are in preparation (correct as of September 2015, please check the country pages for up-to-date information).

All materials are originally written in English. Translations are then made available by project partners or other organisations.

Not all materials have been translated into all languages – the most frequently translated resource is the Quick Guide to EDPQS. Translations of the EDPQS Toolkits will become available soon (correct as of September 2015, please check the country pages for up-to-date information).

Please access your country page from the EDPQS Activities Map to see what materials are available in your language.

Funding for translation has come from the European Union as well as national and local funding sources. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) generously supported translation of the standards into the languages spoken in south eastern Europe.

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Who provided funding for the EDPQS?

The development, publication and translation of the EDPQS was co-funded by the European Union, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), as well as national, regional and local partner organisations (especially those belonging to the Prevention Standards Partnership).

You can find funding statements on the EDPQS Phase I and Phase II project pages, as well as on the first pages of the EDPQS products.

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Official status of EDPQS

Are the EDPQS mandatory or binding in any way?

No. Adherence to the EDPQS is currently recommended but not obligatory. This is because the necessary support structures (e.g. funding, training) are not currently in place in most EU Member States, and therefore making the standards mandatory would place a disproportionate burden on practitioners.

In some countries, prevention activities must adhere to national quality standards in order to receive funding, or are more likely to receive government funding if they adhere to national quality standards.

The European Prevention Standards Partnership supports this approach in principle (see our EDPQS Toolkit 1). It is, however, important to complement such systems with adequate support to avoid any unintended side effects (e.g. fulfilment of standards ‘on paper’ but not in practice; see also our EDPQS Toolkit 4, Step 4, pp. 11-12).

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Is there any official recommendation to use EDPQS?

In the European Union, there is only an official recommendation on the implementation of minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction in the EU, published by the European Council (see our Related activities page).

These conclusions explicitly refer to the EDPQS as a background document to the minimum standards. We suggest that the EDPQS can support the fulfilment of the minimum quality standards recommended in the Council conclusions.

The EDPQS are further supported by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the EU’s main agency on drug-related matters. The EMCDDA seeks to support EU Members States in responding to drug-related needs. It does this by providing drug professionals with the information they require to undertake high quality work, not by ‘dictating’ what to do. The EMCDDA helped to initiate the EDPQS project and has published and supported the translation of EDPQS products, including the Manual and the Quick Guide. The EMCDDA also supports the dissemination of the EDPQS, for example by hosting workshops on the EDPQS as part of its Reitox Academies on Prevention.

Some national governments have also recommended use of the EDPQS. For example, in the United Kingdom, guidance published by Public Health England and by the Home Office has recommended use of the EDPQS (see United Kingdom country page for details). In Croatia, government recommends that prevention providers applying for governmental funding consider the EDPQS in developing their project proposals (see Croatia country page for details).

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EDPQS vs. other quality standards

We already have our own local/regional/national quality standards. Do we need to consider EDPQS?

Yes. If you are a practitioner in a country where local, regional or national quality standards are already in place, then you can use the EDPQS to learn more about quality in prevention. If there are quality standards but no practical support tools available to help you assess and improve the quality of your work, the tools provided through the EDPQS might be very useful, for example EDPQS Toolkit 2 which includes practical and easy-to-use checklists and questionnaires. If you are a trainer, then EDPQS Toolkit 3 could be of interest as it includes suggestions for how to train prevention professionals on quality standards.

If you work for an agency that is responsible for local, regional or national quality standards, then we recommend that you consult the EDPQS to see if there is anything you would like to incorporate in your own standards. If you are a policy-maker, commissioner or funder, then EDPQS Toolkit 1 can support you with this effort. For example, do your own standards already include statements relating to the ethics of preventive activities (EDPQS D) or standards on how information about the activity will be disseminated in the prevention community (EDPQS 8.2)? You may wish to revise and update your own standards based on EDPQS. If you decide to adapt the EDPQS for your own purposes, please consult EDPQS Toolkit 4 as this provides step-by-step guidance on how to do this.

You can also promote the EDPQS as a supporting document to aid implementation of existing standards. This is, for example, the case in Poland, where the EDPQS are promoted as an in-depth resource book to support implementation of the national quality standards in drug prevention. (Of course, this only works if the EDPQS and the already existing standards are compatible in terms of their content.) More information on this can be found in the Example Projects in EDPQS Toolkit 4.

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What is the relationship between EDPQS and other international standards (e.g. UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention, Minimum quality standards for drug demand reduction interventions in the EU, EQUS)?

Different standards have been developed for different purposes. However, the contents are generally compatible and complementary.

For example, while the EDPQS focus on the context in which interventions are planned and delivered, the UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention focus on the content of interventions (i.e. what kind of intervention to deliver).

Other European standards such as EQUS and the “Minimum quality standards for drug demand reduction interventions in the EU” were developed to cover all areas of drug demand reduction, including treatment and harm reduction, while the EDPQS focus on prevention only. In addition, EQUS and the EU Minimum Standards were developed for national policy-makers and are therefore less detailed than the EDPQS.

Further information on different international standards is available on our Related activities and our Outside Europe pages.

You might also find the EMCDDA’s Dr Gregor Burkhart’s 2015 overview article on “International standards in prevention” helpful. You can access it for free at http://ijptsud.sljol.info/articles/abstract/10.4038/ijptsud.v1i3-4.7836/

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Are there any similar activities taking place outside Europe?

Yes! Activities to develop and promote quality standards are taking place globally. Please see our Related activities and Outside Europe pages for more information.

You might also find the EMCDDA’s Dr Gregor Burkhart’s 2015 overview article on “International standards in prevention” helpful. You can access it for free at http://ijptsud.sljol.info/articles/abstract/10.4038/ijptsud.v1i3-4.7836/

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Using the EDPQS: who, how and why

What are potential benefits of using the EDPQS?

We expect that prevention providers can benefit from using and adhering to the EDPQS in a number of ways, including but not limited to:

  • Reassurance that what you’re doing will be considered good practice across Europe
  • More efficient procedures for planning and delivering prevention activities
  • Clearer communication within the team, with funders and other stakeholders
  • Better target population engagement
  • Staff feel better supported
  • Greater likelihood of obtaining necessary funding
  • Being able to sustain activities in the long-term

Application of the EDPQS should also bring about positive outcomes at the level of the prevention system, such as:

  • A shared vision of what prevention should look like
  • Prevention activities that serve target population needs
  • Increased synergy among organisations working in the prevention field
  • Improved communication between policy, practice and research sectors
  • More efficient use of economic resources
  • Increased competency and professionalism of those working in prevention
  • Increased evidence base on what works and how

By improving the quality (including the effectiveness) of prevention activities, the EDPQS should facilitate population-level outcomes such as:

  • A decrease in substance use related harm
  • Adoption of healthier lifestyles
  • Reduction of negative social and economic outcomes
  • Savings on costs from the reduced need for drug treatment

You can read more about how quality standards can lead to improved prevention practice and better outcomes in the EDPQS Theory of Change.

See also:

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Are there any practical tools available to support work with the EDPQS?

Yes! There are a number of toolkits available which have been developed to support specific professional groups (e.g. policy-makers, practitioners, prevention coordinators) with promoting and achieving quality in prevention.

You can find an overview of all available toolkits here.

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What kind of activities can benefit from the EDPQS?

The EDPQS were developed for all kind of drug prevention activities.

Many activities can help to prevent drug use and related harms even though they are not labelled specifically as drug prevention activities (e.g. health promotion, youth work, social work, crime prevention, etc.). Similarly, many people contribute to the aims of drug prevention even though they would not consider themselves drug prevention specialists. These may still benefit from the EDPQS.

Any activity that self-identifies as being a drug prevention activity (or has drug prevention as one of its aims) should aim to adhere to the EDPQS. The EDPQS were developed specifically for projects addressing illegal drug use, but they can also usefully inform alcohol and tobacco prevention activities. Other kinds of activities may also benefit from the EDPQS, although some of the standards may need to be adapted for such purposes (using EDPQS Toolkit 4).

Research conducted in EDPQS Phase II suggested that projects will benefit most from using the EDPQS if there is still ‘room for change’, i.e. in the early stages of project development and implementation.

See also:

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Are the EDPQS also suitable for ad hoc initiatives and routine services?

Based on research undertaken as part of the EDPQS Phase II project, most standards within the EDPQS should be easily applicable to all kinds of prevention activities.

Overall, we found that the standards are most easily applicable to structured manualised programmes (e.g. school-based prevention curricula).

Users wishing to apply the EDPQS to less structured activities (e.g. ad hoc initiatives, needs and participant-led activities, routine services) may require additional guidance on how to interpret the standards with respect to their activity. However, unless a formal assessment exercise is undertaken, this should not pose a problem, and the EDPQS can still usefully inform such types of prevention activity.

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Who should use the EDPQS?

The EDPQS can be used by a wide range of people within the drug prevention community, including:

  • Programme developers
  • Programme managers
  • Commissioners and funders
  • Policy-makers
  • Service managers and front-line practitioners
  • Prevention coordinators
  • Educators
  • Trainers
  • University teachers
  • Evaluators
  • Researchers

We have developed Toolkits tailored to the needs of different professional groups, which you can access here.

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Why should I use the EDPQS, I know what’s best for my target population?

The EDPQS are intended to enhance, not to replace existing knowledge. They aim to stimulate reflection on existing working practices in order to help identify areas for further development and improvement.

Using the EDPQS will help you to ensure that:

  • target populations receive the best possible activities
  • resources are spent in a cost effective manner

It is unlikely that the EDPQS will contain anything controversial, or something you have never heard of before. The EDPQS represent a broad consensus on what constitutes high quality in prevention. They were developed through a review of 19 existing sets of quality standards and with input from over 400 individuals working in the drug prevention field, including many practitioners and policy-makers working at a local or regional level in different European countries. These individuals were involved through online surveys but also in face-to-face meetings where the standards’ practical usefulness was discussed. Also, the developers of the EDPQS – the Prevention Standards Partnership – comprise more partners from policy and practice backgrounds than from Universities.

The EDPQS offer an opportunity to review your own working practices against what is considered to be ‘high quality’ at a European level, and to pick up ideas for how you could develop and improve your work further. EDPQS Toolkit 2 was especially developed to help practitioners review their work and reflect on how they do prevention, whereas Toolkit 1 was developed to assist decision-makers in thinking about quality in prevention. You can find more information about our definition of quality in the EDPQS Position Paper.

See also:

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How can the EDPQS be used in practice?

The Standards can be used to help:

  • Plan for quality in the development of new prevention initiatives (e.g. by using the EDPQS as a checklist during the planning process)
  • Identify the strong quality aspects of prevention initiatives
  • Develop and Improve the quality of existing prevention provision
  • Review the quality of ongoing or completed prevention initiatives
  • Assess whether a prevention related activity is undertaken or likely to operate in a way that can be considered “high quality”

The EDPQS can also be used in order to support:

  • Information and awareness raising
  • Education and training of prevention professionals
  • Self-reflection and self-improvement
  • Professional development
  • Performance appraisal
  • Funding applications
  • Developing or updating existing quality criteria or standards
  • Developing an organisational service charter
  • Communication among different prevention stakeholders

The four EDPQS Toolkits were specifically developed to support the practical application of the EDPQS.

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If I use the EDPQS, does that mean I don’t have to conduct formal process and outcome evaluations?

Unfortunately not! You will still have to continue to undertake outcome evaluations to find out whether your activity worked as intended, and process evaluations to understand how these outcomes were achieved. The EDPQS can help you develop activities that are more likely to be effective, but they cannot guarantee effectiveness.

You can read more about recommended usage of the EDPQS in our Manual (p. 27-31).

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When will I find the EDPQS most useful?

Research conducted in the EDPQS Phase II project suggested that practitioners (including service managers, programme developers, and front-line practitioners) will find the standards most useful as a tool for reflecting on the quality of their prevention activities, and for developing their prevention activities further.

It is therefore recommended to use the EDPQS especially in the early stages of development and implementation, when it is still possible to make changes. You can use the checklists provided as part of EDPQS Toolkit 2 when planning your activity to ensure you’ve considered all relevant aspects.

In later stages of project development, the EDPQS can be used to assess whether an activity should continue in the same form, or whether modifications should be made. However, research conducted in the EDPQS Phase II project suggested that in some cases, existing contracts, established routines, funding requirements, etc. may make it more difficult (although not impossible) to revise prevention activities based on the EDPQS.

While poor prevention work shouldn’t be justified on the basis that it has been done “like this” for a long time, you must be aware that in this case you are likely to encounter greater resistance to change and may find the process of using and implementing the EDPQS to be more costly.

Policy-makers, funders and commissioners will also find the EDPQS most useful in the early stages of programme development and implementation, i.e. when writing tenders for projects and when selecting projects for funder or other forms of support. EDPQS Toolkit 1 can support you to reorientate your funding and selection mechanisms towards quality.

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What is the difference between using the EDPQS and meeting the EDPQS?

Using the EDPQS means using the available EDPQS resources (e.g. EDPQS Toolkit 2, Quick Guide, Manual), for example when planning and reviewing prevention activities.

Meeting the EDPQS means undertaking prevention work that is in line with the quality standards specific in the EDPQS Manual.

Implementing the EDPQS means changing non-compliant work practices so that they meet the EDPQS.

Using the EDPQS is not the same as meeting them. Some examples:

  • Provider A is using the EDPQS checklist to review his preventive work. He identifies some critical areas that he would like to work on. However, the improvement requires additional funding which is not available at the moment. So Provider A is unable to act on his good intentions. As a consequence, even though Provider A used the EDPQS, he was unable to meet them. In this case, the EDPQS could put him in a better negotiating position with his funding agency (e.g. if he justifies the request for more funding with specific reference to the European standards).
  • Provider B is implementing prevention activities which are developed through a systematic planning process, are based on good practice recommendations, and on scientific evidence on what works. As a consequence, Provider B’s prevention activities meet many standards within the EDPQS, even though Provider B hasn’t actually used any of the EDPQS resources so far. Provider B can now benefit from the EDPQS by using the EDPQS to demonstrate all the strong points of his work and checking if there are any areas that he would like to develop further.

Similarly, it is also important to distinguish between dissemination strategies that raise awareness about the EDPQS and the available resources, and implementation strategies which actually improve prevention practice on the basis of the EDPQS. You can read more about this in Step 4 of EDPQS Toolkit 4.

See also:

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How many standards should a prevention activity meet in order to be considered ‘basic’, ‘good’ or ‘high’ quality?

EDPQS Toolkit 1 provides an assessment checklist which funders and commissioners can use to calculate how many standards are met by a given prevention activity.

The Toolkit does not provide objective thresholds with which to categorise activities into ‘basic’, ‘good’ or ‘high quality’ activities. Instead, funders and commissioners are encouraged to compare prevention activities to each other to identify those with higher scores. Importantly, the Toolkit also recommends that funders and commissioners undertake a qualitative assessment of the prevention activity, considering its strengths and weaknesses, as well as likely resource implications. Funding decisions should therefore be based not only on ‘how many’ standards are met, but also which standards have been met and in what way.

Practitioners are more likely to benefit from using the EDPQS if they use them to identify strengths and weaknesses of their prevention activity, rather than by calculating ‘how many’ standards they meet. EDPQS Toolkit 2 was developed specifically to aid self-reflection and improvement.

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Aren’t the EDPQS just “good project management”?

Yes – and no. A project that is well managed will naturally meet many of the EDPQS. However, the EDPQS were developed specifically for drug prevention activities, and so contain quality considerations (e.g. on ethics) that you wouldn’t usually find in project management guidance.

It is also important to mention that the EDPQS do not intend to be a guide to good project management. Although they touch upon many aspects of project management, if you are specifically interested in project management there are better resources available.

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What if I don’t agree with (some aspects of) the EDPQS?

The EDPQS were developed to reflect a broad consensus on what constitutes quality in drug prevention (see the EDPQS Phase I project page for details of how they were developed).

It is OK if you don’t agree with some minor detail of how a particular sentence is formulated – we took great care in preparing our documents, but unfortunately nobody is perfect. If this happens as part of a translation and adaptation project, please see our guidance in EDPQS Toolkit 4 on what changes are permissible or contact us.

If, however, you don’t agree with a more important aspect of the EDPQS, or consider them irrelevant, consider why you feel this way. Is it is because that aspect seems too difficult or costly to achieve? That can actually be a first step toward the self-reflection and improvement that the EDPQS are trying to prompt.

The considerations provided in the Manual at the beginning of each component may help you to better understand why we have included particular standards, and how they should be interpreted. If you still have questions or concerns after reading these explanations, please contact us to discuss further.

See also:

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EDPQS in the real world of prevention policy & practice

Are there any real-life examples showing how the EDPQS have been used in practice?

Yes. Please check our Examples of Use page for selected examples.

You can also explore the EDPQS Activities Map to find out how the EDPQS have been used in different European countries.

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What EDPQS activities are currently taking place?

The last international EDPQS project funding formally ended in March 2015 (for further information, see our EDPQS Phase II project page). We are currently exploring opportunities to continue the EDPQS work at an international level. Updates will be posted on the News section of this website.

Even though the international project has finished, the EDPQS continue to be used around Europe and beyond. Please check the EDPQS Activities Map to find out more about activities that are taking place at local, regional, national and international levels.

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Who is currently using the EDPQS?

Current users of EDPQS include international, national, regional and local policy-makers, funders, prevention coordinators, prevention advocates, prevention providers, umbrella organisations of prevention providers, researchers, trainers, and others.

To find out more, please see our Examples of Use, the Example projects in EDPQS Toolkit 4, or explore the EDPQS Activities Map.

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Where can I find out if there have been any EDPQS-related activities in my country?

You can access country-specific information from the EDPQS Activities Map. Just select your country from the map or from the menu on the right-hand side on that page.

If your country is not listed, then you can contact us for more information.

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The costs of using EDPQS

Although the EDPQS are intended to support those working in the drug prevention community to achieve better outcomes with and for target populations, people can be sceptical about the introduction of standards and worry about the implications of standards for their own work.

We feel it is essential to respond to such questions and comments, as misconceptions concerning the contents and purpose of quality standards in prevention can become a barrier to the uptake of standards, and thus stand in the way of achieving quality in prevention.

Why should I invest time in the EDPQS?

It is important to take time on a regular basis to review what we are doing, and to take in new information. Otherwise we don’t know whether we are still doing the right thing in the right way. The EDPQS can support such a review.

See also:

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How much does it cost to use the EDPQS?

All EDPQS materials are available to use for free. You can easily access them from our resources page.

The main cost associated with using the EDPQS is the time investment. However, we have developed practical tools such as EDPQS Toolkit 2 that make it easy to start using the EDPQS right away.

If you would like to receive training on the EDPQS, there may be some costs associated with that and you can contact us or your local EDPQS contact person for more information.

Additional costs may arise when you actually start to put the EDPQS into practice (see next question).

If you have found the EDPQS useful and would like to give something back, it would be great if you could contribute a short description of your experience for use on our blog or for our country pages (but this is entirely optional). If interested, please contact us.

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How much does it cost to implement the EDPQS?

Although using the EDPQS is not associated with costs other than your and your colleagues’ time, additional costs may arise when you actually start to put the EDPQS into practice.

Achievement of the EDPQS may or may not require additional resources, depending on what areas for improvement are identified and what follow-up actions are agreed, and it is possible to improve prevention activities without the need for additional funding.

Many standards can be achieved by reallocating resources and revising existing practices (doing things differently) rather than having to invest additional resources (doing new things). The EDPQS distinguish between a ‘basic’ and an ‘expert’ level (see the Manual). All drug prevention activities, regardless of ‘size’, should be able – and try – to achieve the basic standards.

In some cases additional funding will be needed, for example, if you want to hire an evaluation expert to support your evaluation efforts.

It is therefore not possible to estimate the costs of developing your prevention activities further, as this must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

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How easy or difficult is it to start using the EDPQS?

The EDPQS are supported by practical toolkits to help you start using the EDPQS without difficulty.

If you are a service manager, programme developer, or front-line practitioner, you will find the EDPQS Toolkit 2 a great way to familiarise yourself with the EDPQS. You can complete a ‘quality assessment checklist’ which will result in immediate feedback on stronger and weaker aspects of your prevention activity (look for the ‘quality synthesis profile’). You can then use ‘improvement support questionnaires’ to reflect on critical areas and think about how to develop them further. Completing the quality assessment checklist will take about 1 hour in total, and we recommend you reserve an extra 30-60 minutes for each critical area you want to address using the improvement support questionnaires. This does not have to be done in one sitting, but can be a longer-term process. It can be assigned to one or several individuals, and can take place in a group setting.

If you are a policy-maker, commissioner or funder, then EDPQS Toolkit 1 summarises key messages that arise from the EDPQS for your work. There is also an ‘assessment criteria checklist’ that you can use to review your own criteria for allocating funding or providing other forms of support.

If you would like to obtain a general overview of the EDPQS, then you will find the Quick Guide useful.

You can obtain an overview of all available EDPQS resources here.

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Do I require specialist knowledge to use the EDPQS?

No. If you work in prevention or related fields (or have received relevant training), you should be able to use and understand the EDPQS without difficulty. In case of any uncertainties, you can always check the glossary which is provided in the Manual. It explains all the technical terms used in the EDPQS.

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I work in a small specialised drug and alcohol service. Can I use the EDPQS?

Yes. You can easily start using the EDPQS by using Toolkit 2. You can then decide for yourself which areas you consider critical for future improvement.

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Do I need to read the thick Manual?

The EDPQS Manual may initially look long and complicated, but on closer inspection you will find this is not the case. The standards are presented in a bullet-point format, so that the text is not very dense. The standards have been organised following an intuitive project cycle structure, with the different chapters of the Manual corresponding to different project stages. Different sections can be read independently of each other, meaning that it is not necessary to read the Manual from the first page to the last page in one sitting. It is possible to start with the sections that are most interesting to you.

We recommend that you read the Manual in full if you wish to conduct in-depth work with the EDPQS, for example if you want to deliver workshops on the EDPQS, translate or adapt the EDPQS, or promote them in your prevention community.

Colleagues who don’t have the time to read the full manual will benefit from the user-friendly toolkits which can be used independently.

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How feasible are the EDPQS?

Research undertaken as part of the EDPQS Phase II project suggests that prevention activities will meet at least a few standards across most components of the EDPQS – so don’t worry about not meeting any of the standards.

The EDPQS help you to identify what you’ve already achieved and where you can do better. The EDPQS Toolkit 2 was devised especially for this purpose.

Furthermore, the EDPQS distinguish between a ‘basic’ and an ‘expert’ level to account for the different resources available to prevention providers (see the Manual for details). Most basic standards within EDPQS should be achievable by redirecting existing resources and revising existing practices. EDPQS Toolkit 2 refers mostly to the basic standards, so it’s a good starting point.

Activities that have been developed using a systematic approach to planning, considering best practice recommendations, and based on available scientific evidence about what works, will easily meet many of the standards within EDPQS. The EDPQS (especially the ‘expert’ level within the EDPQS Manual) will help to identify areas for further improvement.

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Will using the EDPQS mean more work for me?

This depends on your current working practices. More often than not, using the EDPQS should simply mean doing things differently rather than having to do new things. So you would just spend your existing resources (such as your time) differently.

You will need a bit of time at the beginning to familiarise yourself with the EDPQS, but again this doesn’t necessarily mean more work. If you routinely refer to best practice guidance as part of your job (or are expected to do so), then using the EDPQS simply helps you achieve what you need to do anyway.

In the long run, using the EDPQS should save you work by helping you to plan and deliver prevention activities more efficiently.

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How long does it take to formally assess a project against the EDPQS, and how easy is it?

EDPQS Toolkit 2 allows practitioners to easily assess their own projects against the EDPQS, and to develop them further. An initial assessment of a project’s quality will take about 1 hour.

EDPQS Toolkit 1 helps funders to revise their funding criteria based on the EDPQS. The length of time needed to assess a project against the EDPQS will depend on funders’ current practices with regard to the assessment of proposals.

The types of assessment supported by EDPQS Toolkits 1 and 2 allow users to obtain an overall sense concerning a project’s quality, as well as to identify its strengths and weaknesses.

These toolkits do not support a detailed and systematic assessment. We tested the usefulness and feasibility of a detailed and systematic assessment procedure as part of the EDPQS Phase II project, formally assessing four prevention projects and one prevention provider against all of the basic and expert attributes contained in the EDPQS Manual. Reviewing all available materials about a project and completing a bespoke Excel checklist containing all basic and expert-level attributes took between 1.5 and 4 days per project. You can read more about these case studies on our blog: http://prevention-standards.eu/project-update-1-case-studies-undertaken-by-project-partners/

However, we found that the process does require expert knowledge of the EDPQS and so would only be meaningful as part of certification or accreditation exercises (not currently available or planned). In addition, we found that practitioners appreciated and benefitted more from a discussion of their project’s strengths and weaknesses, while a very detailed judgement of their activity reduced their engagement with the quality standards.

In developing toolkits, we therefore focussed on Toolkits that would support self-reflection and improvement, rather than detailed assessments. We may revisit possibilities for detailed and systematic assessments of prevention activities if funding is received to support certification and accreditation exercises based on the EDPQS.

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What happens if my prevention activity doesn’t meet the EDPQS?

There is no penalty if you do not meet all the standards specified in the EDPQS. The EDPQS are intended as a support tool, to help you reflect on your activities and develop your work further.

There are many different standards within the EDPQS. It is likely that your prevention activity already meets some standards, but not others.

You can use EDPQS Toolkit 2 to identify those aspects of your prevention activity which are not yet in line with the EDPQS. EDPQS Toolkit 2 provides you with a ‘quality synthesis profile’ helping you to identify stronger and weaker aspects of your work.

You can use this information to discuss with your colleagues what steps you could take to develop your activities further.

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Training and support, certification and accreditation

Who can help me to use the EDPQS?

Please check your country page from the EDPQS Activities Map to identify the main contact person for your country. You will find their contact information (e.g. email) as well as a list of topics that they can help you with.

If your country is not listed in the EDPQS Activities Map or there is no organisation identified that could help you, please contact us and we will do our best to support you.

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Can I receive some training on EDPQS?

Although it is our ambition to provide training in the use of EDPQS (and toolkits) in the context of promoting quality in drug prevention, at the moment we do not have funding to deliver regular and in-depth training. However, we occasionally give presentations and workshops on EDPQS, and you might be able to attend one of these; please check our presentations page for details of upcoming presentations and training events.

In some countries, training can be offered by a local partner. Please access your country page from the EDPQS Activities Map to identify the best contact person for your country. Kindly note that there may be a cost associated with training receipt.

EDPQS Toolkit 3 (in particular the presentations on that page, including this video), although aimed at trainers, provides more in-depth guidance on how to use the standards and you might find it useful to dip into these.

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Is it possible to book a training event on EDPQS?

Yes. In some countries, training events can be offered by a local partner. Please access your country page from the EDPQS Activities Map to identify the best contact person for your country.

If you would like an international representative of the European Prevention Standards Partnership (e.g. one of the main authors) to give a workshop on quality standards at your organisation or conference, please contact us for more information.

Please also check our presentations page for details of upcoming presentations and training events.

Using EDPQS Toolkit 3, you can also prepare and deliver your own training event on EDPQS. This free toolkit provides you with all the materials you need to hold a half-day, one-day or two-day workshop on the EDPQS, including a trainer’s manual, PowerPoint slides, participant handouts and more. If you are already familiar with the EDPQS, this could be a great way to deepen your own knowledge and engage your colleagues in a dialogue on quality in prevention.

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Is it possible to obtain a certificate or accreditation based on EDPQS?

Not yet. We are hoping that we will be able to offer a certificate or accreditation in the future.

If you wish to obtain a certificate or accreditation for your drug prevention work, please contact your local, regional or national drug prevention coordinator. They should be able to advise you on certification and accreditation routes available in your country.

If you want to tell others that you (seek to) comply with the EDPQS, we recommend that you describe in your own words how you use the EDPQS in your work (e.g. do you use them as a checklist when planning new activities?) and how you meet them (e.g. how do you meet particular standards that you consider important?).

Please do not use the EDPQS logo without the permission of the European Prevention Standards Partnership.

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Promoting the EDPQS: presentation, translation, adaptation, copyright

I would like to present the EDPQS to my colleagues. Are there any slides available that I could use?

Yes. Please check our A Brief Summary resource. There you will find a set of slides (*.pptx format) that you can use to deliver a short presentation on EDPQS.

If you would like to give a more in-depth presentation, you can adapt the slides provided as part of EDPQS Toolkit 3.

If you are using the slides (or any other EDPQS materials) in a formal context, you will find suggestions for how to cite these materials at the bottom of the respective web pages.

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We would like to develop our own quality standards based on EDPQS. Is there anything we need to consider?

Yes. Please check EDPQS Toolkit 4 for a step-by-step guide on how to develop your own quality standards based on the EDPQS.

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I would like to promote the EDPQS in my area. How can I get involved with the EDPQS project?

Please access your country page from the EDPQS Activities Map to see what (if any) EDPQS-related activities have already taken place in your country and if there is already another organisation active in your country to promote quality in prevention. If so, please contact your local contact person to set up a collaboration with them.

If there have been no EDPQS activities in your country so far, please consult EDPQS Toolkit 4. This toolkit provides you with information on how to promote quality standards in your area.

Please also contact the European Prevention Standards Partnership to express your interest in supporting EDPQS activities. We can then update the information on your country page to identify you as a possible contact for EDPQS in your country, and contact you in case a new international EDPQS project is planned.

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I would like to translate the EDPQS – is there anything I need to consider?

Yes. If you wish to translate any EDPQS materials, please check and adhere to our translation guidelines.

In case of EDPQS materials published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EDPQS) (e.g. Manual, Quick Guide), you will also need to adhere to the EMCDDA’s translation guidelines.

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What is an EDPQS Champion?

An EDPQS champion is somebody who uses the EDPQS to promote quality in prevention in their own geographical area or other professional context.

To find out how to become an EDPQS champion, and to meet existing EDPQS champions, please check EDPQS Toolkit 4.

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How to motivate others to question and improve the quality of their work?

The answer to this question goes beyond the scope of this Q&A, but here are a few pointers:

“Bottom-up” approaches rely on intrinsic motivation. Change will only happen if there is a sense of urgency: a problem that needs to be addressed now. To make a start in that direction, ask: have we achieved the results we wanted? Are we really contributing to the health and well-being of our target population? If we spent our time, money and effort differently, could we achieve better results with and for our target population? Can we afford to continue spending our resources on sub-optimal activities? Are our efforts perceived by policy-makers and the general public as professional and important?

It is also important that the practice suggested by the EDPQS is believed by users to be better than the existing practice. Consider: What are the advantages and disadvantages of existing approaches to prevention versus the EDPQS approach? How might things work better if practice was in line with the EDPQS?

“Top-down” approaches (e.g. making receipt of funding conditional upon adherence to quality standards) can also provide an incentive for change. However, if practitioners do not actually believe in the value of the new practice (such as EDPQS), then the resulting change may be only “on paper” rather than represent any real change in prevention practice.

See also Step 4 in EDPQS Toolkit 4 which describes strategies to promote use of quality standards.

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Are the EDPQS protected by copyright?

Yes, the EDPQS are protected by copyright. Generally speaking, the EDPQS resources are free to use and share as long as you acknowledge the source (e.g. identifying contents as being taken from the EDPQS, using quotation marks where appropriate, including bibliographical references).

Detailed copyright information is included at the beginning of each EDPQS resource.

If you wish to translate any EDPQS materials, please make sure to check and adhere to the translation guidelines. Additional rules apply for the materials published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) (i.e. the Manual, the Quick Guide).

If you wish to develop a new product (e.g. standards) based on the EDPQS, please check and adhere to our adaptation guidelines as specified in EDPQS Toolkit 4.

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Applying the EDPQS to other fields

Do the EDPQS only support activities that aim to prevent drug use, or could they also be relevant to risk minimisation and harm reduction activities?

The EDPQS are relevant to all types of activities that seek to prevent drug use and related harms.

According to the EDPQS Position Paper, the overall aims of drug prevention should be to “reduce adverse health or social outcomes, and to improve population wellbeing” (p. 6). The Position Paper further clarifies that “Abstention from drug use may not always be necessary to achieve these prevention outcomes, but may play an important part” (p. 6).

The EDPQS are therefore also relevant to activities that seek to prevent riskier forms of drug use (rather than any form of drug use) or that seek to prevent progression to use disorders or problematic use.

The EDPQS were not specifically developed for use with harm reduction activities, and therefore the standards need to be adapted before they can usefully inform harm reduction work. This has been done, for example, as part of the NEWIP project, where the EDPQS were adapted for use with harm reduction activities in nightlife settings. For more information on the NEWIP Good Practice Standards, see http://newip.safernightlife.org/standards

EDPQS Toolkit 4 includes guidance on how to adapt the EDPQS. The adaptation of the EDPQS to the NEWIP Good Practice Standards is described in the Toolkit as Example 5.

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Are the EDPQS also relevant to activities addressing alcohol or tobacco use, other types of risk behaviour, or health promotion in general?

Yes, they can be. Since the EDPQS focus less on the content of interventions, and more on the structures and practices to enable high quality interventions, many standards within the EDPQS (e.g. on needs assessment, evaluation) will be relevant for any kind of health or social intervention.

However, if the EDPQS are applied to activities other than drug prevention, it may be necessary to adapt some standards, for example on substance use indicators. EDPQS Toolkit 4 provides step-by-step guidance on how to adapt the EDPQS for use in other contexts.

You can also find an answer to the question “Do you think that EDPQS could be used also for alcohol prevention?” in our interview published in the Polish drugs magazine „Świat Problemów”.

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The science behind EDPQS

How were the EDPQS developed?

The EDPQS were developed through i) a review and synthesis of quality criteria found in existing regional and national quality standards from Europe and beyond, as well as other ‘best practice’ documents, followed by ii) online and face-to-face consultations with over 400 people working in prevention or related fields.

See our EDPQS Phase I project page to find out more about how the EDPQS were developed.

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Are the EDPQS evidence-based?

The EDPQS were developed by synthesising quality criteria found in existing regional and national quality standards from Europe and beyond, as well as other ‘best practice’ documents (see our EDPQS Phase I project page to find out more about how the EDPQS were developed).

These source documents were themselves typically based on literature reviews identifying important aspects of good prevention work, as well as on expert consensus. In the methodological report emerging from the EDPQS Phase I project, you can find detailed information about the 19 documents upon which the EDPQS are based, including how they were developed (i.e. what evidence they were based on). Although expert consensus is not usually considered ‘hard’ scientific evidence, it is important to remember that some quality criteria (e.g. on ethics) can only be based on expert consensus (e.g. what constitutes ethical practice), and could not be tested through scientific trials.

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Have the EDPQS been evaluated?

The relevance, usefulness and feasibility of the EDPQS, as well as of using the EDPQS, have been explored extensively in the EDPQS Phase I and Phase II research projects. For key findings, please check the answers to the following questions:

The effectiveness of the EDPQS themselves has not been subject to evaluation. A study commissioned by the German Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) (Tempel et al. 2013, p. 195) found that evaluations of the effectiveness of quality standards were generally missing (i.e. this is not something unique to EDPQS). This means that it has not yet been empirically tested whether activities that use or adhere to quality standards are more effective than activities that do not use or adhere to quality standards.

However, it is plausible to assume that use of and adherence to quality standards will also improve intervention effectiveness over time, especially as EDPQS standard 8.1 requires that programmes are only continued if there is evidence from monitoring or evaluation to support such a decision. You can read more about this in the EDPQS Theory of Change.

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