On 13 and 14 June 2013, IARD, then ICAP, convened a meeting of international experts from various public health disciplines to discuss challenges and successes in the areas of health education and behavior change, and define a way forward towards a framework for good practice in alcohol education. Over the two days, meeting participants provided lessons learned from their respective fields; provided perspectives on alcohol education, social norms, and effective evaluations; offered input based on personal experience; and shared recommendations on the role of educational programs in changing health related behavior.
What we've learned
Lessons learned from the educational field can be applied in many contexts and across disciplines. From the Paris meeting discussions, the following common elements in educational programs emerged:
- Formative research is a critical part of any successful educational program. This includes conducting a needs assessment within the target community, identifying and getting to know your target audience and their peer networks, and understanding the context (cultural, social, economic, etc.) within the community to ensure that the program is appropriate.
- A clear objective(s) should be defined at the outset of the program. Once the objective(s) is defined, a plan should be developed on how to meet the objective(s). Progress towards meeting the objective(s) is measured through process evaluation during the course of the program with a final outcome or impact evaluation carried out to determine the successes of the program.
- Knowledge, skills, and attitudes affect behavior change, as do social norms. Several risk and protective factors are present in communities and need to be accounted for when aiming to change behavior.
- Challenges to behavior change include, but are not limited to, lack of awareness of the problem, lack of resources, psycho-social barriers, and correcting normative misperceptions present in the target population.
- Educational programs should aim to be sustainable, replicable, and transferable to other cultural contexts. Incorporating programs into presently established settings such as school curricula and/or life skills education are valuable.
- Programs that are designed with positive messaging to promote health and safety may assist in skills development and empowerment of the target audience.
As a result of the discussions held in Paris, IARD1 began working with a group of seven advisors to draft a Framework that defines “good practice” in alcohol education. This Framework laid the foundation for the Alcohol Education Guide: Reducing Underage and Other Harmful Drinking website.
The Advisory Group also developed a set of guidelines for evaluating alcohol educational programs. These guidelines were used to review and recommend the examples of good practice programs included on the website.
1. In 2014 The International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) and the Global Alcohol Producers Group (GAPG) merged to form the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD).