What are the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS)?

Quality Standards: a benchmark that helps judge whether an activity, a provider, etc. represents high quality. Quality Standards are typically based upon professional consensus. Their main focus is on structural and procedural aspects of quality assurance, e.g. evaluation, staff composition and competencies, participant safety, etc. (Glossary for use with the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards, see the Appendix in the Manual).

The EDPQS provide a set of principles to help prepare, and assess the quality of, drug prevention and offer a comprehensive resource outlining all the formal elements of drug prevention activities.

The EDPQS have been developed by the European Prevention Standards Partnership as part of a project co-funded by the European Union. The EDPQS are a result of review and synthesis of existing international and national standards, as well as consultations with more than 400 professionals in six European countries. They are the first European reference point on “high quality” drug prevention based on a consensus of evidence and experience. The Standards are intended for a wide range of drug prevention activities (e.g. drug education, structured programmes, outreach work, brief interventions), settings (e.g. school, community, family, recreational settings, criminal justice) and target populations (e.g. young people, families, ethnic groups). Drug prevention activities that are considered using these Standards may have their focus on legal substances, such as alcohol or tobacco, and/or illegal substances or be undertaken within a broader context of health promotion.

The EDPQS Project cycle – three levels of detail: Project stages, Components, Attributes

The European Drug Prevention Quality Standards are ordered chronologically in a project cycle, describing the development, implementation and evaluation of drug prevention work (Figure 1). The full set of Standards have been published in a manual:




Figure 1: The drug prevention project cycle


The project cycle is made up of eight stages plus four cross-cutting considerations. It is a simplified model of drug prevention work which professionals should carefully adapt to the particular circumstances of their prevention work. Each project stage is divided into several components, which outline what actions to take. In total, there are 31 components across all project stages and four components within the cross-cutting considerations.


Figure 2: The EDPQS Components

Cross- Cutting Considerations
  1. A: Sustainability and funding
  2. B: Communication and stakeholder involvement
  3. C: Staff development
  4. D: Ethical drug prevention
1 Needs Assessment
  1. 1.1 Knowing drug-related policy and legislation
  2. 1.2 Assessing drug use and community needs
  3. 1.3 Describing the need -€“ Justifying the intervention
  4. 1.4 Understanding the target population
2 Resource Assessment
  1. 2.1 Assessing target population and community resources
  2. 2.2 Assessing internal capacities
3 Programme Formulation
  1. 3.1 Defining the target population
  2. 3.2 Using a theoretical model
  3. 3.3 Defining aims, goals, and objectives
  4. 3.4 Defining the setting
  5. 3.5 Referring to evidence of effectiveness
  6. 3.6 Determining the timeline
4 Intervention Design
  1. 4.1 Designing for quality and effectiveness
  2. 4.2 If selecting an existing Intervention
  3. 4.3 Tailoring the intervention to the target population
  4. 4.4 If planning final evaluations
5 Management and mobilisation of resources
  1. 5.1 Planning the programme - Illustrating the project plan
  2. 5.2 Planning financial requirements
  3. 5.3 Setting up the team
  4. 5.4 Recruiting and retaining participants
  5. 5.5 Preparing programme materials
  6. 5.6 Providing a programme description
6 Delivery and Monitoring
  1. 6.1 If conducting a pilot intervention
  2. 6.2 Implementing the intervention
  3. 6.3 Monitoring the implementation
  4. 6.4 Adjusting the implementation
7 Final Evaluation
  1. 7.1 If conducting an outcome evaluation
  2. 7.2 If conducting a process evaluation
8 Dissemination and Improvement
  1. 8.1 Determining whether the programme should be sustained
  2. 8.2 Disseminating information about the programme
  3. 8.3 If producing a final report

Please note that the numbering of components does not necessarily indicate priority or chronological order.


Attributes (figure 3) constitute the third level within the standards, defining each component in greater detail. If used for reflection on prevention work, these attributes define attainment towards the particular component. At the attribute level, basic and additional expert Standards (representing a higher level of quality; see Figure 4 for an example) are provided. It is helpful to see these in their proper context in the full EDPQS manual. Attributes allow a review of the Standards within a variety of prevention activities and according to the different capacities of organisations.


Figure 3 (example of an attribute at component 1.1) – Knowing drug-related policy and legislation

Basic Standard Notes and examples
1.1.1 The knowledge of drug-related policy and legislation is sufficient for the implementation of the programme. Examples of policy and legislation: relevant legislation covering drugs, alcohol, tobacco, medicines and volatile substances; health education policy.


Figure 4 (example of an expert standard in component 1.1)

Additional expert Standard Notes and examples
1.1.3 The programme complies with relevant local, regional, national and/or international standards and guidelines. Basic standard if required by existing policy and legislation.Example of standards: existing standards on making services young-people friendly.


The EDPQS manual encourages practitioners and other professionals working in the prevention field to think about how existing activities relate to the Standards and how they can be improved in order to obtain (even) better and more sustainable results.

In this Toolkit you will be introduced to some tools (Checklists and Questionnaires) based on the EDPQS. These are intended to help professionals who are not yet familiar with the concept of quality standards in prevention and who wish to find out more about this topic.


The manual containing all standards is available to download from:

EMCDAA Manuals
EMCDAA Manuals



For more information about the EDPQS, including additional resources and real-life examples of use, please visit www.prevention-standards.eu