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Selecting Program Strategies

Where do you begin when deciding on which strategies you are going to use to deliver the greatest health outcomes?

Before you jump into deciding which strategies you will use in your program you need to be sure you have a good understanding of the health issue you are addressing and the unique needs of your target group. To do this, check out the SiREN Program Planning Toolkit sections one to three which covers how to undertake a needs assessment, develop program goals and objectives and apply behaviour change theories.

There are a wide range of strategies that can be used in SHBBV programs. Before deciding which strategies to use, there are seven key things you should consider.

#1 Evidence. What is the evidence to support the strategy? In what contexts has the strategy been used before?

#2 Timing.  Consider the timing of your strategies and how they will interact together and with any other programs that are being implemented at the same time.

#3 Social impact. What is the impact of the strategies on your target group? Is it fair and reasonable to expect your target group to engage with the program?

#4 Ethics. Are the strategies ethical? Are they culturally sensitive and inclusive? If you are using others materials, do you have permission? Will you require formal ethics approval to publish findings from your program?

#5 Economic costs. Are the strategies selected able to be implemented and sustained within your allocated budget?

#6 Acceptability. How acceptable is the program to your target group and stakeholders? Will people be willing to engage?

#7 Evaluation. Are your strategies measurable? You will need to provide evaluation data to program funders, stakeholders and target group so the strategies selected need to be able to be evaluated.

Influencing change at different levels

Program strategies can be implemented at three different levels: individual, group or population.

Individual strategies focus solely on the individual and may include brief interventions delivered by clinical practitioners, preventative health checks and advice, and one-on-one education sessions for personal information gain or self-management of ongoing conditions such as HIV.

Group strategies are aimed at a specific group of people and can provide a good setting to implement a health strategy. Examples include workshops, train the trainer sessions, and peer-based support groups. Participants are able to learn from and share with one another on a similar and relevant issue, which can be a very powerful tool for behaviour change.

Population based strategies are aimed across populations of people e.g. people living with HIV or hepatitis C. Population strategies can include social marketing, community based approaches or environmental approaches.


Using the Ottawa Charter to select strategies

The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion is the predominant framework used for health promotion practice. Using the Ottawa Charter to support your strategy selection can ensure that your program operates across different levels and is more likely to lead to change than a narrow approach.

The five action areas of the Ottawa Charter give you some clues on areas to develop strategies:

  • Build healthy public policy
  • Strengthen community actions
  • Create supportive environments
  • Develop personal skills
  • Reorient health services

The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion encourages us to think about the broader context in which we implement our health programs and how different strategies can be used to influence behaviour change, not just strategies that are focused on the individual.

Examples of strategies

Section four of the SiREN SHBBV Program Planning Toolkit provides lots of real world example strategies that you could consider including in your program. These include community education, advocacy, peer-based approaches, and social media.


SiREN SHBBV Program Planning Toolkit. This toolkit steps you through how to plan, implement and evaluate a SHBBV program. Section four provides a detailed overview of how to select strategies as well as numerous examples of strategies used in real world SHBBV programs.

Developing a Health Communication Campaign. This resource provides a step by step guide to assist you in planning, implementing and evaluating a health communication campaign (billboard campaign, pamphlet, poster etc).

Planning Health Promotion Programs: Introductory Workbook. This workbook provides a six-step approach to assist in planning health promotion programs.

Health Promotion Strategies and Methods, Third Edition, (2013) by Garry Egger published by McGraw-Hill Education, NSW.

Promotion of Sexual Health Recommendations for Action. This report provides a number of actions and strategies to promote sexual health.

The HIV and Mobility: Road Map. This report presents five key action areas for HIV and mobility issues in Australia.   

The AFAO Blueprint. This document describes what is required to end HIV transmission in Australia.

The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. This charter provides an overview of health promotion and the pre-requisites for health and sets out five action areas that can inform strategy development.