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Positive Action


Target Problem 
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Marijuana
  • Tobacco
  • School
Target Participants 
  • Kindergarten to 12th grade students
  • Age group: 5-18
  • Gender: Male and female

Assumptions and Outcomes

Main intermediate factor(s) assumed to influence substance abuse 
  • Attitude
  • Social norms
  • Self-efficacy
Underlying assumptions 
  • People determine their self-concepts by what they do
  • Actions, more than thoughts or feelings, determine self-concept
  • Making positive and healthy behavioral choices results in feelings of self-worth
Non-substance abuse outcomes 
  • Academic achievement
  • Problem behaviors (violence, disciplinary referrals, suspension)
  • School absenteeism

Program Structure

  • For each grade level, there are about 145 lessons
  • Each lesson is about 15 minutes
Curriculum coverage 
  • The basic lessons of Positive Action are for students, but it has supplemental lessons for family members and community members
  • Providers/facilitators: In a school setting, the staff involved include the principal, the program coordinator, the Positive Action committee, faculty, and all support staff
  • Training needed: No special prior training, qualifications or experience is needed; but, any individuals who have pertinent qualifications should be noted as additional assets

Previous Implementations

  • Positive Action has been implemented in 50 states and several countries other than the United States
  • It has been adapted to various contexts
Previous participants 
  • Asian
  • Black or African American
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • White
  • Other race/ethnicity
Cultural relevance for Hawai‘i 
0No contextual relevance
1Place-based or ethno-culture
2Place-based and ethno-culture
3Place-based or ethno-culture pertaining to Hawai‘i 
4Hawai‘i-oriented contextual relevance

Note: This framework was based on a study which examined several nationally recognized prevention programs to determine whether any may have cultural relevance to the context of Hawai‘i (Rehurer, Hiramatsu & Helm, 2008 ). We borrowed this framework and applied it to a more current list of EBPs. This approach looks at whether or not a program’s curriculum content was originated and developed with a certain place or culture in mind. A score of 0 (zero) indicates no specific reference to a place or an ethno-culture was included in the program’s development (no contextual cultural relevance) and a score of 4 (four) indicates that the program was developed either specifically for Hawai‘i or was developed somewhere else but was then also adapted for "local" and/or Native Hawaiian cultures. Placement of a program on the continuum was based on the sample population listed in their study reports and included considerations of 1) whether the program was ever implemented with populations similar to the racial/ethnic composition of Hawai‘i's population and 2) whether the program was ever adapted to meet the needs of a specified local or ethnic culture (for instance, was the curriculum has successfully implemented in Spanish or languages other than English?).

Ever implemented in Hawai‘i?  
  • Yes
Previous implementation in Hawai‘i 
LocationTime PeriodOrganization
Statewide1984–mid 1990'sPositive Action, Inc
2010–2013Alu Like, Inc.
Hawai‘i County2011–2012Hawai‘i County Economic Opportunity Council
2011–2012Hawai‘i Future Farmers of America Foundation
Honolulu County2011–2012Boys & Girls Club of Hawai‘i
2014–2015Boys & Girls Club of Hawai‘i Hale Pono Ewa Beach Club
Kaua‘i County2011–2012Hale 'Opio
2011–2012YWCA of Kaua‘i 
2012–2013Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii
Maui County2010–2012Boys & Girls Club of Maui
2011Hoaloha 58


Is there any published study with Hawai‘i participants?  
  • Yes (see references)


Contact Information 
  • Positive Action Website:
  • Positive Action on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SHAMSA)’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP): Positive Action
  • Beets, M. W., et al. (2009). Use of a social and character development program to prevent substance use, violent behaviors, and sexual activity among elementary-school students in Hawaii. American Journal of Public Health, vol 99(8)., pp. 1438-1445.
  • Center on the Family, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.  (2016).  Prevention Programs Online Survey, 2014–2016  (Tool C2 & D5)
  • Center on the Family, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.  (2013).  Substance Abuse Prevention Resource Mapping Project
  • Flay, B. R., Allred, C.G., & Ordway, N. (2001). Effects of the Positive Action Program on achievement and discipline: Two matched-control comparisons, Prevention Science, Vol. 2, No. 2.
  • Rehuher, D., Hiramatsu, T., & Helm, S. (2008). Evidence-based youth drug prevention: a critique with implications for practice-based contextually relevant prevention in Hawai‘i. Hawaii Journal of Public Health. 1(1): 52-61. Retrieved from
  • Snyder, F., et al. (2012). Improving elementary school quality through the use of a social-emotional and character development program: A matched-pair, cluster-randomized, controlled trial in Hawaii, Journal of School Health, 82: 11-20
  • Yuan, S., Sabino, S., & Wongkaren, T. (2013). Final evaluation report: Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant, State of Hawaii, 2006-2012. Honolulu, HI: Center on the Family, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
  • Washburn, I. J. et al. (2011). Effects of a social-emotional and character development program on the trajectory of behaviors associated with social-Eeotional and character development: Findings from three randomized trials," Prevention Science, 12: 314-323.