Module 6: Evaluating Program Efforts
Evaluating rural obesity programs is critical to the development of an evidence base for what works in rural communities. Evaluation can help communities to assess the quality, cost, effectiveness, and effect of a policy, program, intervention, initiative, or action to prevent or treat obesity (see CDC’s Framework for Program Evaluation).
Evaluations may assess individual behavioral changes or policy, system, and environmental changes. For example:
- Individual behavioral interventions may provide training, education, or other opportunities to individuals
- Policy interventions may focus on changing a law or organizational rule
- Systems interventions may affect an organization or system
- Environmental interventions may focus on changing a community’s economic, social, and physical environment
Given the nature of obesity treatment and prevention programs, and the diversity of sectors and stakeholders involved, evaluations often measure progress across multiple aspects of the intervention simultaneously. Similarly, obesity programs often implement a combination of policy, systems, and environmental changes. These factors make it difficult to identify the effectiveness of individual intervention strategies.
As a result of these challenges and others, few rigorous evaluations have been conducted on rural obesity interventions to date.
For a detailed overview of program evaluation, see Evaluating Rural Programs in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.