According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, evaluation is an important part of successful public health practice. Public health professionals work across disciplines to implement health promotion and disease prevention programs designed to improve the health of communities. The effectiveness of these programs can be evaluated through studies that assess processes, impacts, and outcomes. The information that the evaluations provide helps public health workers refine their efforts, maintain their funding, and meet their future objectives.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health promotion tries to empower individuals and communities to take more control over--and thereby improve--their health. Health is affected by genetics and individual behaviours as well as the social determinants of health such as income level, education, and the social and physical environment. As a result, health promotion efforts must take a diverse set of factors into account since it is difficult to determine accurately the influence that any one factor has on health.
Disease Prevention programs try to reduce the incidence and severity of specific illnesses or disease. These programs try to help at-risk populations reduce or eliminate their risks. Other disease prevention programs rely on screening and early detection of diseases and disorders such as breast cancer or diabetes. For many diseases, early detection and treatment are essential to achieving a positive outcome.
Purpose and Types of Studies
Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method studies can be conducted to evaluate how effectively a program is managed and implemented, the quality of the program, and whether the program has reached the target population. Studies can assess the effect of a given program or intervention on the target population in the short term. Impact studies try to identify changes in health knowledge, behaviour, environment, and risk factors. Outcome evaluations look at the long-term outcomes associated with a program or intervention in order to determine whether the objectives were achieved.
Knowledge and accountability are two benefits of health promotion and disease prevention studies. Studies may conduct cost-benefit analysis, determine the effectiveness of programs, identify any confounding or contributing factors, establish best practices, and make it possible for others to replicate successful interventions. The information that comes from these studies is beneficial to public health researchers, practitioners, and other stakeholders, including funding agencies, community partners, and the public. Funding agencies benefit from the knowledge that their money is being used appropriately. The public benefits from the development of effective, evidence-based programs. Public health workers benefit from the identification of best practices and the knowledge that their efforts are not in vain.
- World Health Organization: Health Promotion
- ACT Health Promotion: Evaluation Basics
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention: An Introductory Article
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health