Skip to main content
Rural Health Information Hub

Evaluation Methods and Considerations

There are many methods appropriate for evaluating rural oral health programs. Common evaluation methods include primary and secondary data collection and analysis. Programs may collect primary qualitative data (descriptive) and quantitative data (numbers or values) through in-person interviews, surveys, and focus groups. In some instances, programs may use secondary analysis of existing data to understand how their population compares to populations at the local, state, and national levels. The evaluation methods that work best may differ for each program.

Special considerations for evaluating rural oral health programs include:

  • Designing data collection instruments that are sensitive to the cultural practices and beliefs, language, and literacy level of the population.
  • Bearing in mind the mobility of the population, especially when collecting data from migrant farm workers or populations served by a mobile oral health program. It may be difficult to collect data from the same people over time.
  • Planning evaluation logistics, including the travel time and distance required to collect data, number of participating sites, and number of evaluation staff required.
  • Securing any needed approvals. Some evaluation approaches may involve collecting protected health information that can be linked to a specific individual. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides more information on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

For additional information regarding evaluation methods, see Collect and Analyze Quantitative and Qualitative data in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.