2.15: Targets for Outcomes

Sometime programs set, or are required to set, targets for their outcomes. Targets are projections that say “how much” change or improvement you are attempting to achieve. They are usually numbers — quantitative figures that signal success.


  1. In Healthy Community, 90% of all homes will be smoke-free by 2022.
  2. Grades of participants will increase 10% over the previous year’s scores.

Targets give us a mark to work for; they help us think more critically about what we can realistically achieve. However, setting targets is often problematic. Consider the following:

  • Do you know how much change or improvement is realistic to expect?
  • Do you have baseline information that provides a basis for setting targets?
  • Is there experience with similar programs, and similar participants, that can provide realistic information for setting targets?

When setting a target, consider previous performance, history, and experience with this type of program and target population. When there is no experience, it may be wise to wait until you have collected enough data to be confident that the target you set is plausible. Also, after you have gained experience, you may change or re-set your target to reflect a more accurate understanding and projection.

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