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Rural Health Information Hub

Evaluation Challenges

Rigorous evaluation is necessary in order to fully understand the efficacy of a rural aging in place program. However, there are challenges associated with evaluating aging in place programs for older adults living in rural America. Some of the challenges associated with evaluating rural aging in place programs and possible solutions include:

  • Measuring that an aging in place program prevented certain negative outcomes.
    One of the main goals for any aging in place program is to prevent accidents, hospital or long-term care facility admission, and depression, to name a few. Although measuring negative outcomes prevented is nearly impossible, aging in place programs can measure prevention activities and processes. Programs can also evaluate whether trends in negative outcomes change after the implementation of an aging in place program.
  • Determining the effectiveness of aging in place strategies in individual homes.
    Because rural aging in place programs require policy, system, environmental, and individual changes, it is difficult to determine the unique effectiveness of any one of these strategies on its own. It is important for programs, individuals, families, organizations, and communities to work together to develop strategies for implementation and evaluation. It is also important to use multiple evaluation measures to determine the impact of each program component.
  • Lack of evaluation measures designed for use in rural aging in place settings.
    Evaluation measures are usually not designed for programs in rural settings, which require increased stakeholder support and collaboration to evaluate aging in place interventions. This makes it especially important to have community buy-in and participation at the outset of program implementation.

Resources to Learn More

Aging in Place Successfully with Affordable Housing and Services
Case example that discusses limitations and barriers to data collection and offers strategies for increasing long-term care in the community.
Organization(s): The Coalition for Senior Housing of Massachusetts
Date: 3/2007

Challenges in Program Evaluation of Health Interventions
Provides an overview of issues pertaining to program evaluation for health projects in areas with limited resources. Many of the lessons are applicable for rural areas.
Organization(s): RAND Corporation