Developing a framework for a program theory-based approach to evaluating policy processes and outcomes: Health in all policies in South Australia

Angela Lawless, Fran Baum, Toni Delany-Crowe, Colin MacDougall, Carmel Williams, Dennis McDermott, Helen van Eyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The importance of evaluating policy processes to achieve health equity is well recognised but such evaluation encounters methodological, theoretical and political challenges. This paper describes how a program theory-based evaluation framework can be developed and tested, using the example of an evaluation of the South Australian Health in All Policies (HiAP) initiative. Methods: A framework of the theorised components and relationships of the HiAP initiative was produced to guide evaluation. The framework was the product of a collaborative, iterative process underpinned by a policy-research partnership and drew on social and political science theory and relevant policy literature. Results: The process engaged key stakeholders to capture both HiAP specific and broader bureaucratic knowledge and was informed by a number of social and political science theories. The framework provides a basis for exploring the interactions between framework components and how they shape policy-making and public policy. It also enables an assessment of HiAP’s success in integrating health and equity considerations in policies, thereby laying a foundation for predicting the impacts of resulting policies. Conclusion: The use of a program theory-based evaluation framework developed through a consultative process and informed by social and political science theory has accommodated the complexity of public policy-making. The framework allows for examination of HiAP processes and impacts, and for the tracking of contribution towards distal outcomes through the explicit articulation of the underpinning program theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-521
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Health Policy and Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Evaluation
  • Health equity
  • Healthy public policy
  • Inter-sectoral action
  • Social determinants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health Information Management

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