STAGE 2. Analysing feasibility

What steps should be completed?

STEP 1: Assess population availability

Any health intervention, whether in drug demand reduction or any other area, needs the population to be involved. If a population is reluctant to participate, or even receive the intended benefits of an intervention, it will be very difficult to carry it out and even more so to achieve the expected results. Therefore, understanding initial population availability is a fundamental part of assessing intervention feasibility.

Population availability is usually measured by intention and interest in getting involved or receiving an intervention. In short, it is about understanding the cultural relevance of the intervention for that population. The target population and the intermediary population should be assessed, as should the various people involved (stakeholders).

The intention of the population to participate in an intervention is basically influenced by their perceptions of the drugs problem in their area, by their assessment of the actions that have been carried out or proposed to reduce the problem and their ability to get involved in the intervention. In this respect, it is advisable to explore factors such as:

  • Knowledge, beliefs and concerns about drugs in the area.
  • Previous experience in similar interventions.
  • Expectations about the characteristics and results of the future intervention.
  • Perception of the priority given to the drug use problem by the community, and political and/or legal sectors.
  • People’s perceptions of the resources and capabilities needed to get involved in the intervention.
  • The motivations that would encourage or reject participation in the intervention.

This time can also be used to gather information about the population’s preferences regarding the proposed intervention, which can be useful when subsequently planning the operation. This incorporates the population’s criteria into the project design+

Qualitative research techniques are often very suitable for collecting this type of information. These include interviews, discussion groups and observation sessions. +

It is important to consider some factors when starting a study to compile this information, such as: the most appropriate respondent profile for the information you wish to obtain, strategies to capture respondents, information-gathering tools, planning data collection, analysis and interpretation of the results, and drafting a report of the most significant conclusions. A minimum level of methodological knowledge and some financial and time resources are needed to carry out these tasks. It would be useful to find out whether there any similar study had recently been carried out in your area and, if not, population availability should be researched.

Once you have the information, you can classify it according to the facilities and obstacles affecting population participation. You will then be able to collate population availability and propose measures to tackle any difficulties detected. For example, the population may have unrealistic expectations about the results of the intervention and refuse to participate. In this case, a measure to overcome this disadvantage could be to provide clarifying information to the population to help them adjust their expectations to the predicted reality. One Step@a Time will suggest a tool that can be used to assess population availability once you have collected the information. +