Collect and Analyze 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 is descriptive data that is often used to capture the context around the
outcomes of the program. Qualitative data is important in evaluations of programs that have contextual and
external factors that may impact success—such as geography, population characteristics, and relationships
among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial stakeholders. Qualitative data collection strategies
that may be used include interviews, focus groups, and qualitative program reviews.
Quantitative data is numeric data that can be counted to show how much change has occurred
as a result of the program. Quantitative data can be collected from surveys, questionnaires, or program
Knowing that there are different kinds of data that can be collected, it is important to consider the data
sources used for evaluation. The availability, reliability, and relevance of data can help determine which data
sources to use for program evaluation. It is also important to decide how much data you want to collect for the
evaluation. Rural program evaluations often use multiple data sources, including one or more of the following:
Surveys and questionnaires: Surveys and questionnaires gather information from respondents
through open- and close-ended questions. Patients, providers or other organizations may participate in
surveys about their experience or satisfaction with the program. They can be administered in-person, by
telephone, by mail, or electronically through email or web-based programs.
Pre- and post-program knowledge/attitude test: Documents knowledge gain or changes in
attitude as a result of participation in the program.
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 and allow for more in-depth exploration of the topic. 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
Observations and progress tracking: Observation uses standardized procedures to record
behaviors, situations, and events that occur over the course of the program. Observation is useful for
gathering direct information or to document on-going 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 can include outreach logs, electronic health record data, administrative data, or
referral forms. Qualitative program data reviews can investigate programmatic data provided by grantees or
other stakeholders on outputs and outcomes, among other topics.
Resources to Learn More
Data Collection & Analysis
Informational briefs on different data collection methods and data analysis.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Data Collection for Program
Online course that explains how to collect data to successfully evaluate a community health program. It includes
interactive exercises, audio clips, and more. Users must create a free account with PH LearnLink to access.
Organization(s): Northwest Center for Public Health Practice, University of
Collection across the Health Care System
Identifies steps toward improving data collection, and provides information on understanding opportunities and
challenges within the context of current practice.
Organization(s): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality