Our evaluation of the NSW 2013 Knockout Health Challenge has been published by Health NSW. The Knockout Health Challenge aims to address overweight and obesity in Aboriginal communities through community based teams competing in a 16 week weight loss challenge that combines group and individual exercise with healthy lifestyle information. This is followed by a less intensive maintenance phase.
We interviewed team mangers and the state implementation team to explore the effectiveness of implementation and identify areas for improvement for future challenges. To assess outcomes, we analysed data on weight, diet and physical activity at four points in time: before and after the program, and five and nine months after the program.
The evaluation found that the Challenge was highly valued by participants and team managers, and was feasible to implement in most contexts. While participant weight loss varied between individuals and stages in the program, overall, participants’ average weight 9 months after the Challenge was significantly lower than at the start of the Challenge. Statistically significant changes were also seen in participant physical activity and daily fruit consumption over the same time period. The participants most likely to lose weight during the Challenge were women, those with the highest starting weights, and those who most frequently participated in team training.
The full report can be accessed on the NSW Health website.
Principal Consultant Andrew Hawkins has been invited to share his experience with building evaluation capacity at the NSW Government Evaluation Conference, organised by the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet. On 25 September 2015, Andrew will join representatives from NSW government agencies on the panel ‘building evaluation capacity: a view from across the sector and beyond’. Drawing on his experience, Andrew will talk about the need for a range of approaches to build the supply and demand for high quality evaluation in a public sector agency. Evaluation mentoring can provide a cost-effective means of getting internal evaluation teams on track, engaging staff with data and, ultimately, producing an evaluation that is geared towards informing public policy and represents value for money. Mentoring can help teams to develop a program logic for an intervention, identify questions of strategic importance to their agency, locate existing data, develop methods for collecting new information and decide on data analysis, as well as provide quality assurance. For more information about the conference see the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet website.
We continued our long tradition of sponsoring the Australasian Evaluation Society Conference, this year sponsoring the key note from Marlene Laubli Loud. Marlene is a Swiss evaluator who has worked with the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, the European Commission, the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Evaluation Group. She described the range of challenges that internal evaluators can face, such as working across organisational ‘silos’; managing the interplay between the organisation, its stakeholders and broader culture; and managing the tension between independence and ownership. Her strategies for overcoming these challenges are having an institutional vision and support; addressing power imbalances; developing individual and organisational capabilities; and having knowledge connectors and entrepreneurship.
Over the last few years, our senior staff have increasingly been working with internal evaluation managers and teams to build capacity for evaluation and our Director Chris Milne and Senior Consultant Marita Merlene presented the learnings from this work with one of our clients.