Ethical Challenges in Promoting the Implementation of Preventive Interventions: Report of the SPR Task Force

Bonnie J. Leadbeater, Tom Dishion, Irwin Sandler, Catherine P. Bradshaw, Kenneth Dodge, Denise Gottfredson, Phillip W. Graham, Sarah Lindstrom Johnson, Mildred M. Maldonado-Molina, Anne Mauricio, Emilie Phillips Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Prevention science researchers and practitioners are increasingly engaged in a wide range of activities and roles to promote evidence-based prevention practices in the community. Ethical concerns invariably arise in these activities and roles that may not be explicitly addressed by university or professional guidelines for ethical conduct. In 2015, the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) Board of Directors commissioned Irwin Sandler and Tom Dishion to organize a series of roundtables and establish a task force to identify salient ethical issues encountered by prevention scientists and community-based practitioners as they collaborate to implement evidence-based prevention practices. This article documents the process and findings of the SPR Ethics Task Force and aims to inform continued efforts to articulate ethical practice. Specifically, the SPR membership and task force identified prevention activities that commonly stemmed from implementation and scale-up efforts. This article presents examples that illustrate typical ethical dilemmas. We present principles and concepts that can be used to frame the discussion of ethical concerns that may be encountered in implementation and scale-up efforts. We summarize value statements that stemmed from our discussion. We also conclude that the field of prevention science in general would benefit from standards and guidelines to promote ethical behavior and social justice in the process of implementing evidence-based prevention practices in community settings. It is our hope that this article serves as an educational resource for students, investigators, and Human Subjects Review Board members regarding some of the complexity of issues of fairness, equality, diversity, and personal rights for implementation of preventive interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-865
Number of pages13
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Dissemination
  • Ethical challenges
  • Evidence based interventions
  • Implementation
  • SPR Task Force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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