Program Planning and Monitoring Self-Instructional Manuals

The research findings and data sets produced by the Sheps Center are intended to be used to address public health problems. One framework for using research results and datasets for health problem alleviation is the rational program planning process. This process serves as a bridge between and among measurement sciences, behavioral and organizational theories, health problems, and public health practice.

Self-instructional manuals covering the steps in this process are now available. The manuals offer technical guidance for data and evidence-based planning within a framework that encourages development of creative, responsive and accountable interventions. Each manual presents key principles of a step in the planning process, followed by opportunities to practice applying the principles to public health situations. Used as a set, the manuals demonstrate interconnections among steps in the planning process. However, each of the manuals can also be treated as a stand-alone unit, without compromising its teaching/learning potential. The topic of each manual is described briefly below:

  • Assessment of Health Status Problems: In this manual, the foundation step of the planning process is explored in detail. Problem assessment involves examination of the dimensions and magnitude of a health problem as well as analysis of corresponding precursors and consequences.
  • Health Services Needs Assessment: This assessment examines the adequacy of existing services to address a health problem by preventing its precursors or compensating for their effects. Where existing services fall short, unmet needs for service can be identified.
  • Development and Selection of Interventions: This manual focuses on developing a small number of intervention options to address the unmet needs identified in the previous manual. It also presents an approach to selecting the most appropriate intervention for implementation.
  • Setting Objectives: Having selected an intervention, a program hypothesis and objectives that include activities or indicators and measurable targets comprise this next step in the planning process.
  • Programming and Implementation: This is the stage during which an operational program plan, including fully described activities, a budget, staffing requirements and an implementation schedule, is developed from the program’s objectives and theories.
  • Evaluation Monitoring Progress Towards Achievement of Objectives: This last step of the process involves a comparison between the program’s actual experience in reaching its objectives and the targets that were originally set for those objectives. The resulting information, in turn, feeds directly into the next round of program planning.

The set of manuals was developed over a ten-year period.  They have been revised several times, most recently in 2001-02.