|Responding to Drug and Alcohol Problems in the Community (WHO, 1991, 109 p.)|
|7. Simple evaluation of efforts to reduce drug and alcohol problems|
When individuals, groups, or organizations work together it is usually assumed that they will have a greater effect than they would have working separately. While this may be true, it is most important that the programmes are carefully planned on the basis of good information, and that they are periodically evaluated to see if they are having the effects that were intended. Such planning and evaluation efforts can be quite simple, or they can be complicated and time-consuming. But they are essential if communities are to find out if their good intentions and hard work are producing the desired results in terms of fewer problems related to alcohol and drugs. If they are not, changes should be made to achieve better results for the resources invested.
Because evaluation sometimes implies a judgement as to success or failure, some people may be reluctant to undertake such activities in case the results indicate failure. While this, of course, occasionally happens, what is far more likely is that the results will show that some changes are necessary to improve the programme. Remember that even the best programmes can be improved through the planning and evaluation process.
The purpose of this chapter is:
· to describe the process of setting goals and objectives, as a basic tool for programme planning and evaluation;
· to outline the potential benefits of evaluations of various types and at various levels; and
· to provide information about a range of specific evaluation methods that readers can adapt to their own situations.
Once the basic concepts and techniques of evaluation are understood and have been practiced, they will become easier and appear less threatening, and will lead to improved efforts to reduce alcohol and other drug problems.