STAGE 3. Defining the population and objectives

What steps should be completed?

Step 2: Formulate the objectives


Prioritisation is highly recommended before formulating intervention objectives. It is plausible that the needs assessment might reveal a situation that is not measurable using the means available to the intervention, so it is useful to keep some criteria in mind to prioritise intervention objectives.

Relevance and changeability are considered basic criteria to prioritise interventions that promote health1 so One Step@a Time has adapted the definition of these criteria to drug demand reduction interventions. Other conditions, such as the resources available, acceptability and time, are also important when prioritising objectives.

  • Relevance: in relation to drug demand reduction interventions, relevance is the evidence that a drugs-related problem is linked to a specific cause. For example, evidence that a health problem is associated with drug use or that drug use is linked to particular personal or contextual risk factors, and also that a certain strategy will influence a particular personal or contextual factor.1 
  • Changeability: evidence that the cause of a drugs-related problem can be altered by an intervention. This criterion refers fundamentally to the level of change that can be achieved in a determinant or risk factor (personal or environmental) by a drug demand reduction intervention.1
  • Resources: the internal and external means available to the organisation to carry out the intervention. If the resources available are kept in mind, more realistic intervention objectives are likely to be chosen.
  • Acceptability: intervention objectives must also take into account the degree of acceptability to the various stakeholders. This acceptability will depend on the extent to which the objectives respond to common interests, and this should be considered when prioritising objectives.
  • Time: every intervention has to be executed in a certain period of time. However, the various interested parties (professionals, intervention agents, politicians, population, etc.) can have different expectations of the results that they expect the intervention to achieve in a specific period of time. Therefore, it is important to consider the different visions, reach consensus and prioritise some objectives over others according to the time considered necessary.

Based on these criteria, intervention objectives should focus on relevant, changeable elements for which there are sufficient resources and time available and which are also accepted by the various stakeholders.



1 Adapted from: Green and Kreuter, cited in Bartholomew LK, Parcel GS, Kok G, Gottlieb NH. (2006). Planning health promotion programs: an intervention mapping approach. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.