Author: Dr. Arana
During this fall I had the opportunity to attend to the Health Planning and Program Development course conducted by Dr. Bruce C. Perry. One of the many things we learned from his class was the importance in creating a Program Rationale. Development of rationale is a key element for planning and implementing health promotion programs. It is the way that health promotion programs will be sold to decision makers. As we known, planning a health promotion program involve different variables and circumstances, and also include several steps that not always begin the same way. For example, it is different when there is an obvious need that should be target in a particular community, based on statistical numbers, or when an unsuccessful program in the past needs to be evaluated, reconstructed and implemented again. Therefore, no matter what the settings of the program, the importance of creating the program rationale is to gain the support of decision makers who are able to provide the necessary resource support for the programs. Having this in mind, we can create a program rationale in four steps:
Step1: Identify Appropriate Background Information
Step2: Titling the Rationale
Step3: Writing the Content of the Rationale
Step4: Listing the References Used to Create the Rationale
Identifying appropriate sources of information and data is considered the first step of this process. We need to start conducting a search of existing literature, which includes articles, books, publications, and all materials that explain the past and existing knowledge about our particular and specific topic. In this manner, we will gain a better understanding of the health problem of concern, audience and people for whom the program is created, and the different approaches related to the health problem. The type of data and information useful for this process include those that express the needs of the priority population (needs assessment), the status of the health problem (analyzing epidemiological data, economic impact and cost-effectiveness of the program), the potential outcomes of the proposed program related to what the decision makers feel is important (reviewing organization’s mission statement and annual report, and present benefits and values associated with the program), compatibility with the local, state, or national health plans (comparing the health needs of the priority population with those of other citizens of the local, state or nation) , provide evidence of the effectiveness and impact of the program ( provide body of data coming from needs assessment, evaluations conducted on other interventions, and knowledge about the causes of the health problem) , and show how the program will protect and preserve the asset of most organizations, and people (human health should be at the core of any health promotion program, improving quality of life).
As we have identified and been familiar whit the sources of data, then we need to move on of putting all rationale together. Then we need to look for the title to the rationale such as “ A Rationale for ( title of program): A Program to Enhance the Health of ( priority population).” And we also should include the authorship of the rationale.
Having this done, we begin to write the content of the rationale. The first paragraphs should include identification of the health problem in global terms, using the epidemiological, economic and needs assessment data, presenting the problem at higher levels, from local to national or international level, will show to decision makers that dealing with the health problem is compatible with the concerns of others. After this, it is should be identified the local health problem and explain the reason of its importance and why it should be deal with. At this point, we should proposed a solution to the problem including the name and purpose of the proposed health promotion program, with a general overview of this and including what can be gained from the program. Remember always align the potential values and benefits of the program with what is important to the decision makers.
Next, we should state why the program will be successful with the evidence-based practice to support the rationale, and highlighting that the “timing is right” for the program to be implemented.
Finally, as the last step of this process, we should include a list of references used in the preparation and creation of the program rationale. Having this list shows decision makers that we studied the available information related to our topic before presenting our idea.
Here are the steps to create a Program Rational:
Following all these four steps will help us to create program rationales in a more effective and efficient way to engage and gain interest and participation of decision makers, which provide resource support to the implementation and developing of our programs. Thanks to the development and implementation of good ideas and project we can contribute to the overall health of our communities producing an impact that in some cases will change the health status of our population and why not of our nations.