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Evaluation Questions

A key component of developing an evaluation is determining what questions should be asked. Outcome evaluation questions for substance use disorder treatment and prevention programs may focus on improvements in clients' quality of life, changes in patterns of substance misuse, and whether health outcomes can be directly attributed to the program. Process evaluation questions focus on whether the program is operating as planned, and if not, why. Some examples of evaluation questions for substance use disorder treatment and prevention programs are provided below.

Process Evaluation

  • What substance use disorder treatment services are being delivered and to whom? (medication, individual counseling, group counseling, vocational services, healthcare navigation)
  • What were some barriers to program implementation? What helped facilitate implementation?
  • What percentage of clients are receiving referrals to recovery support services? What types of services are they being linked to?
  • What barriers to accessing prevention, treatment, and recovery support services did clients report?
  • What barriers did healthcare providers, law enforcement, emergency medical services, or other relevant groups report relating to obtaining and administering naloxone?

Outcome Evaluation

  • Did clients report reductions in quantity or frequency of substance misuse?
  • What policy changes relating to distribution of naloxone occurred as a result of the program?
  • Did the area served experience reductions in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes?
  • Has the program demonstrated improved and measurable health outcomes, including reducing overdose morbidity and mortality?

Resources to Learn More

Evaluation of Substance Use Treatment Programmes
This guide defines program evaluation, discusses general considerations for evaluation of substance use treatment programs, and outlines crucial evaluation steps various different types of evaluation frameworks for treatment programs, including both process evaluation and outcome evaluation frameworks.
Organization(s): United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime

The Little Engine that Could: What a Small Rural Hospital Can Do to Address Substance Misuse
This webinar, featuring speaker Jill Lord, RN MS, from the Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center describes the efforts of a critical access hospital in rural Vermont to address the opioid crisis. She describes their evaluation activities, including the measures used to study program effectiveness.
Organization(s): National Rural Health Resource Center
Date: 1/2018