Discussion: Using Data in Public Health Programs
Program effectiveness is difficult to prove, even when ample quantitative and qualitative data are available. Just because information is easy to count or describe does not mean that it provides insight. For example, a health promotion program that seeks to teach adults in a community to eat fewer fatty foods in order to avoid heart disease. A report about how many heart attacks occurred in the community might provide some insight on overall cardiac health, but there is no way to collect data on the number of heart attacks that did not happen as a result of the program. Moreover, the number of heart attacks alone will not be a relevant data point without being linked to fatty food consumption. However, it may be helpful to look at trends in eating habits as well as trends in heart disease and heart attacks over a 10-year period.
As a public health professional, you may be asked to determine what needs to be evaluated (what is being measured) and why, and what data will yield relevant information. For this week’s Discussion, you will practice planning data collection for effective evaluation using a scenario before collecting data for your own programs.
Select one of the following four hypothetical public health programs. Consider the methods and data points that would be the most appropriate in order to evaluate its effectiveness.
- Boost Your Kids: A U.S. program sponsored by a local health department’s Injury Prevention program. The program seeks to inform parents about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recommendations regarding car seat usage.
- Babies Benefit: A program offered by an international relief organization in Myanmar to train health care providers to communicate about the use of vitamin A and other supplements during every health care visit and intervention.
- Slim Down City: A lifestyle health program aimed at urban residents in the United States, this programs sponsors weekly walks for 10 weeks to promote physical activity and prevent obesity.
- The Pink Bus: A program provided by an alliance between a local university health care system and a cancer center, this clinic on wheels provides free and low-cost mammograms to low-income women in Canada.
BY DAY 4
Post the number of the scenario you selected (make sure to include the number of your chosen scenario in the subject line). Describe three types of quantitative and three types of qualitative data you want to collect about the public health program you chose, and explain why you would collect each. Then, explain one quantitative and one qualitative method that might be most appropriate to evaluate the program and why