Authors: Exner-Cortens, D., Wells, L., Lee, L., & Spiric, V.
This is a pre-print of an article published in Prevention Science. The final authenticated version is available online at https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-019-01011-7
This article explores the design and implementation of the Alberta Healthy Youth Relationships (AHYR) Strategy. The AHYR is a province-wide practice and policy change initiative in Alberta, Canada, that aims to prevent intimate partner violence by promoting service provider and systems capacity to support healthy relationships in adolescence and beyond. Developed in 2012 within a broader initiative called Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence, the design of the AHYR began with work with provincial policy-makers, in order to create a policy climate that championed primary prevention practice. This policy climate subsequently supported the province-wide implementation of three evidence-based/evidence-informed programs that focus on building the skills and capacities required for healthy youth relationships. Through these programs, the AHYR has reached over 62,000 youth in grades 7-9, 900 teachers, 850 parents, and 1300 adults that work with youth across the province. In addition to these three programs, the AHYR also works with larger systems (e.g., policymakers, local funders, post-secondary institutions) to advance primary prevention practice. In this paper, we describe how the AHYR contributed to a culture of intimate partner violence prevention practice in the province by improving the readiness of funders and system leaders, community organizations, and practitioners to support healthy relationships best practices. We also describe how we used process evaluation to explore the potential for practice change and to inform the design of the next iteration of the AHYR. The article concludes with implications for other researchers and practitioners aiming to build a culture of intimate partner violence prevention practice within their province or state.