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You are here: Home Modules Module 1: Conduct a Socio-Ecological Assesment Review the evidence
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Module 1: Conduct a Socio-Ecological Assesment

Are you targeting the right system levels?


Identify all the determinants of health influencing your issueiStock_000006094426XSmall

A socio ecological assessment for a multiple intervention program must be systematic and comprehensive. We recommend casting a wide net at first, to identify as many determinants as possible. Then, depending on your intervention and how you plan to stage it, return to look in more detail at different systems, factors and jurisdictions that could influence its outcome. Looking for all the factors that can affect a multi-level intervention can seem overwhelming, but don’t forget to assess the complex interactions among them. In an injury prevention program, for example, the built environment is likely to be your central concern, but with tobacco control the relationship between addiction and social norms will be influential.

Identify the socio-ecological system levels you’re working on

When you’ve identified the determinants that affect your issue and how they interact, you’ll have a good idea of which socio-ecological system levels you need to aim your intervention at. Political factors — such as policy, funding and legal jurisdiction over an issue — will determine which levels of government (municipal, provincial or federal) you’ll need to work with.

Be on the lookout for determinants at levels you don’t usually plan for

An intervention to increase physical activity could be affected if the federal government cuts transfer payments and your province responds by downloading responsibilities to the municipalities, which in turn raise fees for recreation centres — creating new barriers to exercise programs for low-income people.

Use theory to identify integrated pathways

Use theory (Refer to: Box M - Theories to understand the social determinants of health; Box N - The state and social determinants of health; and Box U - Can health inequities be reduced?) to help you consider all the factors that might affect the results of your intervention (Refer to: Box J - How do the determinants of health interact? ). Theory can also help you understand interaction research (Refer to: Box P – Research Evidence) which suggests what you can expect from combining various levels of interventions.

Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2009 06:52