This chapter introduces the purposes and functions of evaluation and describes the stages in planning and implementing a health promotion or disease prevention program or intervention. These range from defining the problem and developing solutions to planning and implementing programs. Each stage is linked to the evaluation methods described in this book.
Before we start on methods for evaluation, we need to define our terms that describe programs, projects and interventions as we use them throughout the book. These are shown in Table 1.1.
Table 1.1Projects and programs defined ||Download (.pdf) Table 1.1 Projects and programs defined
|A project is a discrete, smaller-scale and well-defined health promotion activity.
|Programs are multi-component, usually larger scale health promotion activities, comprised of multiple projects or components; careful consideration of what level of evaluation is needed for each component, and for the whole program of work.
|System-level activities are health promotion efforts targeting a large-scale whole interconnected system. Evaluation includes the interactions in the system, as well as the effect of the whole systems approach.
|This is a generic term, widely used in the published scientific literature on health promotion evaluation used to describe health promotion activity at any level or size (usually projects and programs as described above).
Evaluation methods should be considered during the planning stage as an integral part of the development of a project or program. It is far more difficult to ‘add’ evaluation in at later stages after the critical decisions on program components and implementation have been made.
Successful evaluation of a program is more likely if:
a thorough population analysis of a health problem will indicate the potential for intervention
there are clearly defined, logical and achievable program goals and objectives
formative assessment is used to develop an intervention, giving sufficient attention to the materials, resources and human capacity required
the intervention is implemented as planned and a good record of the implementation is kept
the project or program is of sufficient size, duration and sophistication to be able to demonstrate if it is effective or ineffective in relation to its goals and objectives
there is a clear plan for implementing the evaluation
the evaluation provides sufficient relevant information to those deciding the program’s value.
Achieving these conditions for successful evaluation is challenging, but more likely if a structured approach to planning is adopted.
Planning models are commonly used in the development and management of health promotion programs. Such models support evidence-led practice and provide a foundation for program evaluation. Some models of planning use population-level and individual enablers, facilitators and barriers to identify the best approach to project planning (Green & Kreuter 2022); others use planning models to specify the intervention components to be delivered.