Empowerment for the right to health: the use of the “most significant change” methodology in monitoring

Fanny Polet, Geraldine Malaise, Anuschka Mahieu, Eulalia Utrera, Jovita Montes, Rosalinda Tablang, Andrew Aytin, Erick Kambale, Sylvie Luzala, Daoud Al-Ghoul, Ranin Ahed Darkhawaja, Roxana María Rodríguez , Margarita Posada, Wim De Ceukelaire, Pol De Vos

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Quantitative evaluations might be insufficient for measuring the impact of interventions promoting the right to health, particularly in their ability to contribute to a greater understanding of processes at the individual, community, and larger population level through which certain results are obtained. This paper discusses the application of a qualitative approach, the “most significant change” (MSC) methodology, in the Philippines, Palestine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and El Salvador between 2010 and 2013 by Third World Health Aid and its partner organizations. MSC is based on storytelling through which the central question—what changes occurred?—is developed in terms of, “who did what, when, why, and why was it important?” The approach focuses on personal stories that reflect on experiences of change for individuals over time. MSC implementation over several years allowed the organizations to observe significant change, as well as evolving types of change. Participants shifted their stories from “how the programs helped them” and “what they could do to help others benefit from the programs” to “what they could do to help their organizations.” The MSC technique is useful as a complement to quantitative methods, as it is a slow, participatory, and intensive endeavor that builds capacity while being applied. This makes MSC a useful monitoring tool for programs with participatory and empowering objectives.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth and Human Rights
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)71-82
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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