Evidenced-Based Strategies and Interventions: What’s the Difference and Which One is Best for My Community?

By Joanne Rinker, MS, RD, CDE, LDN, Center for Healthy North Carolina

These days, there is so much discussion about evidence-based strategies, evidence-based interventions and making decisions about which one to choose, it can get overwhelming.  Let’s simplify the terms and think about how to make the selection process easier! 

An Evidence Based Strategy (EBS) is a proven general recommendation or approach for how to improve a problem.  It is not a specific service, program or practice.  For example, an EBS for decreasing obesity is to increase areas where community members can participate in physical activity. 

An evidence-based intervention (EBI) is a specific program, policy, or practice that has been proven to positively change the problem being targeted. To be considered an EBI, there must be evidence that the intervention has been effective at achieving outcomes.    An example of an EBI is the implementation of a joint use agreement to grant access to a school track for community use.  This is a specific intervention with implementation steps designed to increase physical activity in the community. 

Determining whether or not an intervention is evidence-based is done by collecting data through an evaluation process when a specific intervention is implemented. The evaluation process monitors outcomes to determine whether the intervention positively impacted the target problem and/or contributing condition.

Are you looking for an evidence-based intervention?  There are many websites available to search for EBI.  Here are three to help you get started.    

  • The Center for Training and Research Translation (Center TRT):  http://centertrt.org/?p=find_interventions.  The Center TRT efforts focus on providing practitioners with the best available evidence and approaches related to the prevention and control of obesity.  This site includes both strategies and interventions.  The Interventions section of the website provides resources designed to support the planning, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-supported nutrition, physical activity and obesity prevention interventions.  
  • What Works for Health Toolkit: http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/roadmaps/what-works-for-health.  This provides communities with information to help select and implement evidence-informed policies, programs, and system changes that will improve a wide variety of factors we know affect health. 
  • Research Tested Intervention Programs (RTIPS):  http://rtips.cancer.gov/rtips/programSearch.do.   Here you can search for any type of intervention based on the criteria that fit your community.

Once you have found an EBI, be sure to determine if the EBI is a good “fit” for your community.  Consider the following criteria when you are determining the best intervention to reach your goals. 

  • Prioritized health goals:  Will this intervention help you to reach your goals?
  • Behavioral/ environmental objectives:  Will this intervention allow for behavioral and/or environmental changes needed to reach your goals?
  • Intended population:  Does this intervention target your intended population?
  • Implementation venues:  Is this intervention intended to be held at the venue available to facilitate this intervention?
  • Resources:  Do your community and your partners have the resources (supplies, staff, support, and facility) to implement this intervention?

Once you have determined an EBI is a good fit, implement the EBI and monitor it with appropriate evaluation tools to be sure the intervention is effective, and is something that your community will want to sustain.  The process of matching an intervention to a community can be challenging.  Consider your goals and the criteria to determine whether the intervention you have chosen is the best fit, and then rally support from your community to get started.


Programs supported by:

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