STAGE 3. Defining the population and objectives

What steps should be completed?

STEP 2: Formulate the objectives

The objectives are a vision of a better situation in the future and they offer the potential to turn a wish into something tangible. They indicate what is hoped to be achieved, but do not specify how to do it and, therefore, they should not be confused with the formulation of activities.

The objectives are defined to then prioritise where to direct intervention endeavours. According to the logical planning sequence, the objectives are formulated once the results of the needs assessment and feasibility diagnosis are known. It is possible that these results will present several intervention scenarios, but we do not often have the time or the resources to deal with all these problems and we must prioritise what we want to achieve with the intervention. +

The objectives draw the roadmap to be followed by the intervention and in this sense they should highlight the way to change a situation. For that reason, it is much more advisable to set few potentially achievable objectives than many inaccessible ones. Different types of objective and the terminology to name them can be found in the planning manuals but One Step@a Time aims to simplify this task and focus efforts on formulating the essential objectives. These are the general objective + and the specific objectives +, and the intervention would lose its purpose if they were not included. As you can see, the art of formulating objectives consists of establishing different levels of specification of what the intervention is intended to achieve. Therefore, objectives are defined according to a logical causal structure, so that some derive from others. The specific objectives are defined after formulating the general objective.

Continuing with the causal structure, it is also useful to review the objectives after developing the theoretical focus in the next stage of One Step@a Time. It is likely that the intervention’s theoretical focus will help formulate the objectives, as this focus will attempt to explain the factors associated with the start, maintenance, relapse or cessation of drug use, and the factors associated with the processes of social exclusion and inclusion. In this sense, the theoretical focus on which the intervention is based will also provide clues to understanding the intermediate changes that should occur in the population and its environment to achieve the expected final changes, so it is highly advisable to keep this in mind when formulating the objectives. See stage 4