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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Case study of health goals development in the province of British Columbia Chomik, Treena Anne


Health promotion research and practice reveal that goal setting and monitoring have gained increased acceptance at international, national, provincial/state, regional and local levels as a means to guide health planning, promote health-enhancing public policy, monitor reductions in health inequities, set health priorities, facilitate resource allocation, support accountability in health care, and track the health of populations. The global adoption of health goals as a strategy for population health promotion has occurred even though few protocols or guidelines to support the health goals development process have been published; and limited study has occurred on the variation in approach to health goals planning, or on the complex, multiple forces that influence the development process. This is an exploratory and descriptive case study that endeavours to advance knowledge about the process and contribution of health goals development as a strategy for population health promotion. This study seeks to track the pathways to health goals in British Columbia (BC) and to uncover influential factors in rendering the final version of health goals adopted by the government of BC. Specifically, this study explores the forces that obstructed and facilitated the formulation and articulation of health goals. It considers also implications of health goals development for planning theory, research and health promotion planning. Data collection consisted of twenty-three semi-structured interviews with key participants and systematic review of BC source documents on health goals. Data analysis uncovered nearly 100 factors that facilitated or obstructed the BC health goals initiative, organized around three phases of health goals development. Key factors influencing the premonitory phase included (a) government endorsement of health goals that addressed the multiple influences on health, (b) expected benefits of health goals combined with mounting concern about return on dollars invested in health, and (c) effective leadership by a trusted champion of health goals. Key influencing factors in the formulation phase included (a) the positioning of the health goals as a government-wide initiative versus a ministry-specific initiative, (b) the "conditioning" of the health goals process through the use of pre-established health goals and "orchestrated" consultation sessions, and (c) the make-up and degree of autonomy of the health goals coordinating mechanism. The articulation phase of health goals development revealed several influencing factors in relation to two chief issues that characterized this phase: (a) the lack of specificity of the health goals, and (b) the variable portrayal of the "health care system" as a priority area in the BC health goals. This study also revealed several concessions and trade-offs that characterized the BC health goals process. For example, the formulation of health goals that addressed the broader health determinants yielded health goals without the capacity for measurement, (b) the operational and bureaucratic autonomy of the health goals coordinating mechanism led to feelings of alienation from the health goals process and product among some branches of the Ministry of Health and some established health interests, and (c) the use of pre-determined health goals and the delivery of educative sessions based on the determinants of health generated claims of bias and a lack of trust and fairness in consultation processes and mechanisms.

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