Evaluating complex community-based health promotion: Addressing the challenges
Jolley, Gwyneth Margaret
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Community-based health promotion is poorly theorised and lacks an agreed evidence-base. This paper examines characteristics of community-based health promotion and the challenges they present to evaluation. A review of health promotion evaluation leads to an exploration of more recent approaches, drawing on ideas from complexity theory and developmental evaluation. A reflexive analysis of three program evaluations previously undertaken as an evaluation consultant is used to develop a conceptual model to help in the design and conduct of health promotion evaluation. The model is further explored by applying it retrospectively to one evaluation. Findings suggest that the context-contingent nature of health promotion programs; turbulence in the community context and players; multiple stakeholders, goals and strategies; and uncertainty of outcomes all contribute to the complexity of interventions. Bringing together insights from developmental evaluation and complexity theory can help to address some evaluation challenges. The proposed model emphasises recognising and responding to changing contexts and emerging outcomes, providing rapid feedback and facilitating reflexive practice. This will enable the evaluator to gain a better understanding of the influence of context and other implementation factors in a complex setting. Use of the model should contribute to building cumulative evidence and knowledge in order to identify the principles of health promotion effectiveness that may be transferable to new situations. Key words Health promotion; evaluation; complexity; settings
Author version made available in accordance with the publisher's policy. NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Evaluation and Program Planning. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in EVALUATION AND PROGRAM PLANNING, 45, (August 2014) DOI 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2014.03.006.