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Examples of Evaluation Measures

Substance use disorder treatment and prevention programs have found that having a common set of performance measures can help to keep the project team working toward the same goals. Baseline and interval measures can be used to monitor the effectiveness of program activities and document changes in the target population. The measures used to evaluate rural substance use disorder programs vary depending on the program model and the goal of the evaluation. Example measures include:

Demographic information:

  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Insurance status (Medicare, Medicaid, private, uninsured)

Process Measures: Focus on measuring how services are provided. Examples include measuring:

  • Staff trained
  • Educational sessions held
  • Attendees at program events
  • Coalition meetings held
  • Staff trained in program practices
  • Patients enrolled in and/or served by the program
  • Clients/patients receiving services
  • Referrals to other services
  • Days or weeks clients/patients participate in treatment/services
  • Patient healthcare and/or mental health visits in the past year

Outcome Measures: Focus on measuring the results or overall achievements of the program. Examples include:

  • Rates of substance use disorders
  • Rates of hospitalization for substance use disorders
  • Rates of substance misuse-related emergency department visits
  • Rates of opioid or other drug overdose
  • Rates of binge or heavy drinking
  • Rates of underage drinking
  • Return on investment (ROI) in program examining healthcare cost savings
  • Rate of substance misuse-related mortality
  • Amount of time abstinent from substances such as opioids, alcohol, and stimulants

General guidance for determining evaluation measures can be found in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.

Resources to Learn More

Criteria for Selection of High-Performing Indicators
A checklist of practice-based criteria to help program stakeholders determine the most valid indicators for determining program performance. Discusses considerations such as whether the indicator is consistent with previous practice in the field, availability of data, and the burden of data collection on participants.
Author(s): MacDonald, G.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Measuring and Improving Costs, Cost-Effectiveness, and Cost-Benefit for Substance Abuse Treatment Programs
A manual outlining several methods of determining cost-effectiveness and benefits for substance abuse treatment programs using the cost-procedure-process-outcome analysis model that has been researched and tested with these types of programs. It provides both simple and complex ways to determine costs and benefits and guidance on finding individuals who can help collect, analyze, and synthesize program cost data.
Author(s): Yates, B.
Organization(s): National Institute on Drug Abuse
Date: 8/1999

Project Lazarus: Community–Based Overdose Prevention in Rural North Carolina
An overview of Project Lazarus, a community-based overdose prevention program that was found to be effective in significantly reducing overdose death rates and other opioid–related outcomes in western North Carolina. Includes a description of data and outcomes that stakeholders examined to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
Author(s): Albert, S., Brason, F.W., Sanford, C.K., Dasgupta, N., & Lovette, B.
Date: 6/2011