Stage 6. Defining the evaluation plan

What has to be done?

To establish the plan for intervention evaluation its objectives and actions must have already been defined, as the evaluation is usually developed to confirm that the intervention has been implemented as planned and has achieved its objectives. If you have planned your intervention following the logical sequence proposed by One Step@a Time, the stages corresponding to definition of the objectives and the action plan will have already been completed, so you are in a position to analyse and establish how the intervention will be assessed.

When considering the evaluation, you may ask yourself if you have the necessary financial and technical resources to carry it out. Evaluations certainly have some requirements, but it is also true that they sufficient resources are nearly always available to make some kind of viable evaluation. The information in this stage will help you determine what type of evaluation you might find most useful.

Before analysing which evaluation is most appropriate for your intervention, take some time to reflect on the following question: why evaluate, when many interventions are not evaluated and political decisions to implement them are not based on the results of any evaluation? Reflecting on this question may lead you to think that investing efforts in evaluation involves opting for a task that has not received much credit in the past. Fortunately, this perspective has recently changed in the professional sector, and it is also changing in the political sphere. It is now considered malpractice to start an intervention without having previously defined how it will be evaluated.  Therefore, returning to the invitation to reflect, extended at the beginning of this paragraph, reasons for evaluation include:

  • Ethical commitment. Ensuring that the intervention is based on reasonable grounds to allow the population to receive the benefits intended. This is why information about the evidence for different drug reduction approaches and action strategies was provided in earlier stages of One Step@a Time. It also ethical and transparent to show how money has been used to pay for the intervention, especially if it comes from public funds.
  • Professional responsibility. Understanding what has worked in an intervention, and what has not, increases knowledge and generates confidence. This greater knowledge and security will help you make more rational and objective decisions in future interventions, and perhaps also in the current one. When an intervention is implemented, expectations about its results and concerns about its consequences always arise. A lack of assessment often leads to unrealistic expectations (e.g., exorbitant changes are expected, or too soon) and disregard for potential undesirable effects. When you have the assessment habit, you learn that changes are often limited and require time to appear.

At the end of this stage, you will:

  • Understand what indicators you should examine to give a picture of the intervention’s efficacy.
  • Have drawn up a plan to collect, analyse and interpret the results of the intervention.

If this stage is not completed correctly, there is a danger of:

  • Not being aware of the weaknesses and strengths of your intervention.
  • Not understanding why the results have been obtained have arisen and not being able to explain the efficacy or effectiveness of your intervention.
  • Losing the ability to adjust the intervention while it is being implemented.
  • Discrediting the intervention.