The global strategy emphasizes the need for all policy options and interventions selected by Member States to be accompanied by a specific action plan and to be supported by effective and sustainable implementation and evaluation mechanisms. It states that the appropriate engagement of civil society and economic operators in this respect is essential. It is therefore important, in the timeframe leading up to 2013, that industry activities that address the priority intervention areas outlined in the strategy are evaluated in an appropriate way.
Industry members have invested heavily over the years in targeted intervention measures that are intended to reduce alcohol-related harm. In many cases, however, while these interventions were reportedly successful, this success remains largely undocumented, due to a lack of formal evaluation. As a result, measures such as responsibility messages, alcohol education, or server training are often convenient targets for advocates of greater regulation.
What is lacking is an evidence base around the effectiveness of many targeted interventions. This evidence base can only be developed through proper evaluation. When interventions are at the planning stage, it is important that careful thought is given to how they will be evaluated. It is also very important to set clear, practical, and measurable objectives. For example, if running a drink-driving campaign, it may be unrealistic to assess the impact of that campaign by monitoring any reduction in drink-drive fatalities or accidents; it is not feasible to separate out the impact of one campaign from other factors that have an impact on driver behavior, such as changes in legislation or enforcement. But it would be possible to produce measures of impact that assess:
- Raised awareness of the risks associated with drinking and driving
- Raised awareness of the legislative requirements, for example, legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits
- Raised awareness of the penalties associated with a conviction for drinking and driving, for example, license suspension and increased insurance costs
- Differences in reported or actual behavior, gathered through survey data pre and post the campaign period
There are several different types of evaluation, but all of them involve asking questions and gathering information in a structured manner, before, during, and after the intervention. In the immediate timescale—2010 to 2012—comprehensive evaluations that cover process, inputs, outputs, and impacts may not be feasible, especially for new activities. But process evaluations can be put in place relatively quickly during the planning and development phase of any activity; results can then be used to help refine and shape the project.
The ICAP Toolkit: A Guide to Evaluating Prevention Programs
is available as a resource to help in this regard. The European Forum for Responsible Drinking(EFRD)
has also produced evaluation guidelines for designated driver campaigns, as has the Belgian Institute for Road Safety.