STAGE 3. Defining the population and objectives

What steps should be completed?

Step 2: Formulate the objectives


The general objective is the result you want to achieve in the target population to prevent, reduce or eliminate drugs-related problems and it shows the future situation to be achieved. It should not be confused with the goal or purpose, because although both project a desired future scenario, the difference between them lies precisely in the breadth and scope of this scenario. The goal or purpose of a drug demand reduction intervention would be to reduce the negative social or health consequences of drug use; in short, to improve the quality of life and welfare of the population. The general objective however, expresses the intended results in the health indicators. Some examples of general objectives of drug demand reduction interventions include:

  • Reduce the age of first tobacco use in 12-year-old students from community X by 6 months.
  • Reduce the progression of occasional and/or experimental cannabis use to habitual use by adolescents in community X by 20%.
  • Achieve 50% abstinence from drug use by the end of treatment under programme X.
  • Prevent drug abuse problems developing in children with incipient problematic behaviours.
  • Support social inclusion of women who use drugs in the process of social stabilisation.
  • Improve (re)incorporation into the labour market of people undergoing drug detoxification.

When formulating objectives, it may be useful to start by drawing up a list of the results that you would like to achieve after the intervention. You can then sort them according to priority and investigate whether some objectives depend on others. The result of this task can reveal a picture of the various types of objectives: general objectives, specific objectives and even activities. Again, it is useful to prioritise your general objectives and it would be desirable to choose one of them.

Planning an intervention with a single general objective may seem unambitious, but it is a useful approach. Several general objectives could indicate the need to plan different interventions, such as community programmes with a wide scope. These programmes cover various projects or interventions. If you intend to achieve more than one general objective, One Step@a Time recommends that you register new projects in the application (one for each general objective) and start planning them individually. It should be possible to make use of the work previously carried out during the needs assessment and feasibility analysis stages for these projects.

Some recommendations should be taken into account when formulating the general objective (and the specific objectives). +