The European Alcohol and Health Forum (EAHF) Fourth Monitoring Progress Report was released on 11 December and shows continued improvement in the quality of information provided in the Forum members’ annual monitoring reports.
This year’s evaluation results signal that many members of the Forum have succeeded in providing clear and useful information with regard to their actions to reduce alcohol-related harm. They also suggest that the recommendations issued in previous editions of this report have been taken into account, although the uptake levels have slightly decreased compared to 2011, and vary across Forum commitment holders.
There are, however, statistical caveats to be considered: the one-third drop in the total number of assessed reports as compared to 2011 (a one-half drop compared to 2010) is the most prominent amongst them. The lower share of final reports in the total number of submitted reports in 2012 (22.7%) compared to 2011 (40.91%) should also be taken into account, since sections nine (‘evaluation details’) and ten (‘dissemination’) are only mandatory in final reports and the evaluation results for these two sections may appear artificially high due to statistical effects.
Notwithstanding the overall improvement observed in the 2012 evaluation, some of the challenges referred to in previous Monitoring Progress Reports still remain. These relate to lack of understandable or sufficient information in some sections, deficient distinction between outputs and outcomes (or impacts), and difficulties to find a middle ground between providing excessively detailed (and sometimes superfluous) information on the one hand, and sufficiently relevant information (particularly with regard to the commitment’s timeline) on the other hand. Furthermore, there is room for improvement in terms of relevant quantitative data and linkages between the different aspects of the commitment (objectives, inputs, outputs and outcomes).
Particularly noteworthy is the fact that the number of monitoring reports that provide little or no information concerning the commitment’s outcome and impact remains significantly high. Although the provision of this information is beyond the Forum’s minimum monitoring requirements, it is critical for the effectiveness of commitments to be appropriately understood by both fellow Forum members and the general public. Further reporting efforts are therefore required in this area.