Structural change approaches—also known as policy and environmental changes—are becoming increasingly common in health promotion, yet our understanding of how to evaluate them is still limited. An exploratory scoping review of the literature was conducted to understand approaches and methods used to evaluate structural change interventions in health promotion and public health literature. Two analysts—along with health sciences librarian consultation—searched PubMed, Web of Science, and EMBASE for peer-reviewed U.S.-based, English language studies published between 2005 and 2016. Data were extracted on the use of evaluation frameworks, study designs, duration of evaluations, measurement levels, and measurement types. Forty-five articles were included for the review. Notably, the majority (73%) of studies did not report application of a specific evaluation framework. Studies used a wide range of designs, including process evaluations, quasi- or nonexperimental designs, and purely descriptive approaches. In addition, 15.6% of studies only measured outcomes at the individual level. Last, 60% of studies combined more than one measurement type (e.g., site observation + focus groups) to evaluate interventions. Future directions for evaluating structural change approaches to health promotion include more widespread use and reporting of evaluation frameworks, developing validated tools that measure structural change, and shifting the focus to health-directed approaches, including an expanded consideration for evaluation designs that address health inequities.
- health policy
- health promotion
- measurement issues
- research design
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health