This document offers a brief explanation of why evaluation is useful, and defines terms such as process and outcome evaluation, and short- and long-term outcomes.
Evaluation is the systematic collection and analysis of information about interventions to improve effectiveness and make decisions. It is an intrinsic part of all the steps of the SPF.
Evaluation is useful for some of the following reasons:
An evaluation includes both process and outcome evaluation data. Process evaluation occurs during the implementation of an intervention; outcome evaluation occurs after the intervention has been implemented. Collecting this evaluation data will help you do the following:
Process evaluation documents all aspects of the implementation of an intervention (see “Documenting the Process” on Information Sheet 1: Phases of Implementation). For example, was the same material presented in the same number of sessions over the same timeframe using the same methods? Process evaluation answers the question: “Did we do what we said we would do?” This type of evaluation data will help determine the following:
Outcome evaluation documents whether the intervention made a difference, and if so, what changed. It documents effects achieved after the intervention is implemented, such as changes in a population group’s knowledge, attitudes, skills, or behavior that the intervention is expected to produce in both the short term and the long term. Outcome evaluation answers the question: “Did our intervention make a difference—did it impact the risk factors/problem we wanted to address?” This type of evaluation data will help to determine the following:
A community will need to identify the short-term and long-term outcomes they hope to achieve with their overall comprehensive plan as well as for each intervention. Remember that if the prevention intervention does not address the underlying risk and protective factors that influence the targeted substance abuse problem, then it is unlikely to produce positive outcomes or changes in that problem.
Developed under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies contract. Reference #HHSS277200800004C. For training and/or technical assistance purposes only.