Does development give poor people what they want?

This four page Overseas Development Institute (ODI) background note introduces a central problem in development – that interventions do not address the key concerns of poor people. Options such as Participatory Poverty Assessments are designed to respond to this problem. But this type of analysis is not influential with policy makers.

The background note introduces the quantitative option, ‘Patient Reported Outcome Measures’ (PROS) that is used in the health sector in the United Kingdom. PROM uses a survey instrument to elicit patient perspectives on health outcomes and the value of these outcomes. The scores generated from each type of treatment or intervention can then be compared using a common cost of treatment compared to each additional quality year of life added by the treatment.

The background note proposes a way for applying the PROM option to development interventions.


  • Introduction
  • Attempts to solve this problem
  • Measuring people’s priorities in health care
  • Making this approach work for development
  • Finding out what people want from health services
  • Quantifying health outcomes over time
  • Box 1: Using PROMs in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS)
  • Should it be done?


Melamed, C, (2011). Does development give poor people what they want? Overseas Development Institute. Retrieved from

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