This involves measuring key health behaviours in the population. It may also explore the reach of the agency by assessing community exposure to the programmes and campaigns supported by the funding body.
Where reducing the prevalence of risk behaviours in the population is a stated objective of the funding agency, it is very important that the evaluation framework includes a clear and reliable system for monitoring trends in health behaviour in the community. However, while such data may provide important information for compiling a profile of the funding body’s operating environment, there is some danger in using them as performance indicators for the agency in the short or even medium term, for reasons outlined earlier in this section.
Population evaluation, if included, is the most long-term of the proposed evaluation strategies, and the measures identified for this level are further from the direct influence of the funding agency than the previous components described.
These surveys are used to measure changes in awareness, knowledge, attitudes, intentions and behaviour among the adult population, in addition to measuring exposure to the programmes conducted by the funding agency. The community surveys should be based on independent cross-sectional samples and representative of the populations in the main regions. Community surveys will measure:
- demographic variables;
- awareness, knowledge, attitudes, intentions, and behaviour in relation to health behaviours, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, or nutrition;
- awareness, knowledge, and attitudes in relation to risk behaviours such as driving while intoxicated or substance abuse;
- perceptions of health and perceived control over health;
- exposure to the campaigns or programmes funded by the agency, such as a ‘Quit Smoking’ media campaign;
- exposure of children in the family to school programmes funded by the agency; and
- community support for, and attitudes towards, the activities of the funding body.
Data collection methods
Ideally, these surveys should be conducted when the funding agency is first established and then at intervals of three or four years.
For example, Healthway has carried out a community survey four times in twelve years. It has been organized by a university-based evaluation group, with the fieldwork sub-contracted to a market research agency. Data collection involves household interviews in the Perth metropolitan area, as well as telephone interviews in the rural and outer metropolitan areas.
World Health Organization. (2004). The establishment and use of dedicated taxes for health. World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific.