Prevention of many communicable diseases and their long-term complications also in special diseases such as cancer of the cervix, e.g. by means of vaccination, contributes significantly to the control of fatal diseases. However, the focus is meanwhile shifting to non-communicable diseases as their burden is increasing worldwide. Accordingly, prevention and health promotion focus more on the field of lifestyle related diseases caused by western world diets and physical inactivity as well as malignant diseases, which will take on greater significance due to demographic change and global spread of unhealthy lifestyles. This represents an international issue. Therefore, high priority has been attached to prevention as well as to specific health promotion programs also in the German health system. Consequently, relevant measures have become a central concern of national and international healthcare policy as the corresponding relative shift of the WHO from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases has shown. The primary aim is to assess the effectiveness of common and innovative programs in different settings, e.g. aiming at detection of diseases at an early stage or even to prevent them at all. However, evaluation of corresponding programs has become mandatory to accomplish an optimal resource allocation.
Evaluation, i.e. analysis and assessment of the performance of preventive and health-promoting measures, is becoming more important. The focus of our institute lies on the development of performance indicators and instruments to evaluate various initiatives and projects dealing with prevention and health promotion as well as on the actual execution of studies along with empirical data collection and evaluation. The broad spectrum of analyzed subjects ranges from the effects of healthy diet and physical activity to the impact of campaigns against alcohol and cigarette consumption, or the access and effect of cancer screenings. In the light of existing in-depth insights of what needs to be done to prevent diseases with regard to physical activity and diet, we try to understand which approaches, such as community capacity building, work best on an evidence-based level. Furthermore, we study e.g. the acceptance level of such measures in the target group and their influence on the target group’s knowledge, attitude and behavior. In the course of this, evaluation studies are used to assess the implementation of programs and successes achieved with the respective interventions.
A particular emphasis is placed on the evaluation of preventive initiatives for children and adolescents in the context of both their rehabilitation after organ transplantation and everyday school life. When developing, conducting and evaluating preventive and health-promoting measures we collaborate closely with respective initiators and cooperation partners, e.g. the Ederhof, a family-friendly rehabilitation unit specializing in childhood transplant patients, providing education about diet, exercise, proper use of medication as well as social support. A further partner is the Techniker Krankenkasse, a leading health insurance in Germany. Based on study results, critical success factors are derived for effective and successful preventive measures and processed in the form of practically relevant standards. Our institute particularly focuses on a sustainable incorporation of these measures, aiming at securing them in the long run for all practical purposes. Therefore, basic concepts of health promotion, such as empowerment and participation, as well as of organizational development are included and analyzed according to their influence on people’s environment. One example is our BEOS project which aims at the optimization of nutritional behavior of pupils in public schools.
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