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Collecting and Analyzing Quantitative and Qualitative Data

To conduct a successful evaluation, community health programs will need to identify strategies for gathering appropriate data and evidence. The data collected should align with the evaluation objectives and should seek to answer the evaluation research questions. Data gathered for program evaluation can be qualitative or quantitative.

Qualitative Data Sources

Qualitative data is often used to capture the context affecting program outcomes, such as geography, population characteristics, and relationships among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial stakeholders. Types of qualitative data sources include:

  • Focus groups and interviews: Focus groups collect insight and observational information from a group of people selected for their relevance to an evaluation. Interviews can be structured around a specific theme or issue, allowing for more in-depth exploration. Both methods collect information through speaking with grantees or stakeholder groups to elicit feedback regarding experiences in program implementation and consideration of intended and unintended policy impacts.
  • Technical expert panels: Experts can be involved to review policy options, provide feedback, assess pros and cons, and consider intended and unintended impacts based on contextual features of the program.
  • Observations and progress tracking: Observation uses standardized procedures to record behaviors, situations, and events.
  • Program documentation: Different data sources can report dissemination of program materials, the number of program participants, or improvements in participant health, among other things. These data sources include outreach logs, electronic health record data, administrative data, and referral forms. Qualitative program data reviews can investigate programmatic data provided by grantees or other stakeholders on outputs and outcomes, among other topics.

Quantitative Data Sources

Quantitative data can be counted to show how much change has occurred as a result of the program. Types of quantitative data sources include:

  • Surveys and questionnaires: Surveys and questionnaires gather information from respondents through open- and close-ended questions. For example, patients, providers, or other organizations may participate in surveys about their experience or satisfaction with the program. Surveys and questionnaires can be administered in person, by telephone, by mail, or electronically through email or web-based programs.
  • Pre- and post-program knowledge/attitude test: Pre-post tests help assess knowledge gain or changes in attitude as a result of participation in the program.

Resources to Learn More

Data Collection & Analysis Tools
Offers informational briefs on data collection methods and data analysis.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Data Collection for Program Evaluation
A no-cost online course explaining how to collect data for evaluating community health program. Consists of five modules, interactive exercises and audio clips. Users must create a free account with PH LearnLink to access.
Organization(s): Northwest Center for Public Health Practice, University of Washington

Improving Data Collection across the Health Care System
Identifies strategies for enhancing the collection and sharing of healthcare data in a variety of healthcare settings. Offers examples of data collection in community health centers, hospitals, physician and group practices, and health plans.
Organization(s): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Date: 5/2018