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Bader, Bettina; Coenen, Michaela; Hummel, Julia; Schoenweger, Petra; Voss, Stephan; Jung-Sievers, Caroline (2023): Evaluation of community-based health promotion interventions in children and adolescents in high-income countries: a scoping review on strategies and methods used. BMC Public Health, 23 (1). ISSN 1471-2458

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In recent decades, community-based interventions have been increasingly adopted in the field of health promotion and prevention. While their evaluation is relevant for health researchers, stakeholders and practitioners, conducting these evaluations is also challenging and there are no existing standards yet. The objective of this review is to scope peer-reviewed scientific publications on evaluation approaches used for community-based health promotion interventions. A special focus lies on children and adolescents’ prevention.

A scoping review of the scientific literature was conducted by searching three bibliographic databases (Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO). The search strategy encompassed search terms based on the PCC (Population, Concept, Context) scheme. Out of 6,402 identified hits, 44 articles were included in this review.

Out of the 44 articles eligible for this scoping review, the majority reported on studies conducted in the USA (n = 28), the UK (n = 6), Canada (n = 4) and Australia (n = 2). One study each was reported from Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Scotland, respectively. The included studies described interventions that mostly focused on obesity prevention, healthy nutrition promotion or well-being of children and adolescents. Nineteen articles included more than one evaluation design (e.g., process or outcome evaluation). Therefore, in total we identified 65 study designs within the scope of this review. Outcome evaluations often included randomized controlled trials (RCTs; 34.2%) or specific forms of RCTs (cluster RCTs; 9.8%) or quasi-experimental designs (26.8%). Process evaluation was mainly used in cohort (54.2%) and cross-sectional studies (33.3%). Only few articles used established evaluation frameworks or research concepts as a basis for the evaluation.

Few studies presented comprehensive evaluation study protocols or approaches with different study designs in one paper. Therefore, holistic evaluation approaches were difficult to retrieve from the classical publication formats. However, these publications would be helpful to further guide public health evaluators, contribute to methodological discussions and to inform stakeholders in research and practice to make decisions based on evaluation results

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