Measuring impact in health improvement

What impact have you had?

What outcomes have you delivered?

What difference have you made?

These are questions that we hear asked regularly by politicians, by our managers, and by the public. Yet answering them can be extremely difficult in relation to work concerning improving health or tackling health inequalities.

As practitioners it is normal for us to think we have neither the skills nor the time to carry out impact assessment ourselves. Instead, it is understood that this is a role for academics, researchers and other professionals. But it is vitally important that we see evaluation and impact assessment as part of our work, whether we commission it from others or do it ourselves.

Significant cuts to councils' budgets over the coming years will add to the importance of evaluating the impact of our work, with elected members increasingly asking questions about the value of a project before making funding decisions. As a result, during times of economic recession, the knowledge of what value and impact a project has can help secure further funding and make the difference between whether it continues or not.

To aid you with your evaluation and impact assessment a guide has been produced for Local Government (LG) Improvement and Development (formerly the IDeA) by Valerie Garrow, Associate Director at the Institute for Employment Studies. It has been developed for practitioners working for councils and public health organisations who have been given the task of evaluating the impact of a project or initiative. It will take you through the process of designing, implementing and disseminating an impact assessment and will also provide information on the range of tools and help that is available. It aims to be a practical guide, helping you to design and conduct effective and appropriate impact assessment.

Measuring impact in health improvement (PDF, 36 pages, 770KB)
(An accessible guide for health practitioners)

As part of this work the Healthy Communities programme supported 11 councils and public health organisations to explore their evaluation journey via action learning sets (ALS). These learning sets, and the case studies that have emerged from the programme, have provided the ‘real life' examples of theory in practice and highlight some of the challenges you may face and how to overcome them. These case studies are embedded throughout the guide below and the following projects can also be viewed in full separately (just click on the links to view):

Active Family Challenge (Bristol City Council)

South Gloucestershire Council Sure Start project: fun with food

Carnegie weight management, NHS Peterborough

Taxi! Walsall Council's service for cabbies

'Out to lunch' with Bath and North East Somerset Council



21 March 2011

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