The Funding, Administrative, and Policy Influences on the Evaluation of Primary Prevention Programs in Australia

J. Schwarzman, A. Bauman, B. J. Gabbe, C. Rissel, T. Shilton, B. J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Evaluation of primary prevention and health promotion programs contributes necessary information to the evidence base for prevention programs. There is increasing demand for high-quality evaluation of program impact and effectiveness for use in public health decision making. Despite the demand for evidence and known benefits, evaluation of prevention programs can be challenging and organizations face barriers to conducting rigorous evaluation. Evaluation capacity building efforts are gaining attention in the prevention field; however, there is limited knowledge about how components of the health promotion and primary prevention system (e.g., funding, administrative arrangements, and the policy environment) may facilitate or hinder this work. We sought to identify the important influences on evaluation practice within the Australian primary prevention and health promotion system. We conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with experienced practitioners and managers (n = 40) from government and non-government organizations, and used thematic analysis to identify the main factors that impact on prevention program evaluation. Firstly, accountability and reporting requirements impacted on evaluation, especially if expectations were poorly aligned between the funding body and prevention organization. Secondly, the funding and political context was found to directly and indirectly affect the resources available and evaluation approach. Finally, it was found that participants made use of various strategies to modify the prevention system for more favorable conditions for evaluation. We highlight the opportunities to address barriers to evaluation in the prevention system, and argue that through targeted investment, there is potential for widespread gain through improved evaluation capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-969
Number of pages11
JournalPREVENTION SCIENCE
Volume20
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Evaluation capacity
  • Evidence-based public health
  • Health promotion
  • Primary prevention

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