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Measuring Return on Investment for Public Health Programs

As public health marketers, we strive to improve the health of our communities. Stakeholders, such as policymakers and community members, want to ensure that campaigns will be worthwhile before investing public funds. Therefore, it is important to highlight the benefits of a program such as return on investment when presenting programs for approval. 

Return on Investment

As public health professionals, we know that money spent on public health programs is a good investment. A UK study showed that on average the ROI for public health intervention was 14.3 to 1. By isolating the effects of a public health program, you can convert the benefits to monetary values and compare them to the cost of the initial investment.

Alternative Measures of Success

Although metrics such as ROI are easy for stakeholders to understand, they often do not give a full picture of the benefits provided. Many public health programs are implemented for their non-financial benefits to society. The Human Capital Approach is an alternative that views people as capital investments. This approach addresses a worker’s potential economic productivity or loss of productivity due to illness or injury.

Measuring the benefits of public health programs can help make a case for funding future programming. Measures such as ROI and the Human Capital Approach can help to quantify the often-diffuse benefits of public health programs so communities know that public funds are being invested wisely.  

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