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Evaluation Questions

A key component of developing an evaluation is determining what questions should be asked. Outcome evaluation questions for substance abuse treatment programs may focus on improvements in clients' quality of life, changes in patterns of substance abuse, and whether health outcomes can be directly attributed to the program. Process evaluation questions focus on whether the program is operating as planned, and if not, why. Some examples of evaluation questions for substance abuse treatment programs are provided below.

Process Evaluation

  • What substance abuse treatment services are being delivered and to whom? (medication, individual counseling, group counseling, vocational services, healthcare navigation)
  • What were some barriers to program implementation? What helped facilitate implementation?
  • What percentage of clients are receiving referrals to recovery support services? What types of services are they being linked to?
  • What barriers to accessing treatment and recovery support services did clients report?
  • What barriers did healthcare providers, law enforcement, emergency medical services, or other relevant groups report relating to obtaining and administering naloxone?

Outcome Evaluation

  • Did clients report reductions in quantity or frequency of substance abuse?
  • What policy changes relating to distribution of naloxone occurred as a result of the program?
  • Did the area served experience reductions in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes?
  • Has the program demonstrated improved and measurable health outcomes, including reducing overdose morbidity and mortality?

Resources to Learn More

Evaluation of Substance Use Treatment Programmes
Document
This guide defines program evaluation, discusses general considerations for evaluation of substance abuse treatment programs, and outlines crucial evaluation steps various different types of evaluation frameworks for substance abuse treatment programs, including both process evaluation and outcome evaluation frameworks.
Organization(s): United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime

Procedures, Processes, and Outcomes
Document
For cost-effectiveness, cost-benefit, and return on investment (ROI) evaluations, the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends using the cost-procedure-process-outcome-analysis model, which has been researched and tested with substance abuse treatment programs and is explained in this document. It provides a way to document and analyze program costs and procedures, as well as interim and long-term program outcomes.
Organization(s): National Institute on Drug Abuse