Evaluating health promotion: a tale of three errors

Patient Educ Couns. 2000 Feb;39(2-3):227-36. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(99)00035-x.


The main purpose of this article is to question the relevance of the Randomised Controlled Trial for the evaluation of health promotion programmes. In its concern to manage Type 1 error, the RCT underestimates or virtually ignores Type 2 and 3 errors. Because of the peculiar complexities of health promotion programmes and the importance of gaining insights into the effect of interventions--rather than merely recording whether or not they achieve their goals--a new kind of validity is needed. The central assertion here is that we should adopt a principle of "judicial review" which is based on a broad spectrum of triangulated evidence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Health Promotion / standards*
  • Humans
  • Program Evaluation / standards*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design / standards*