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Evaluation Questions

A key component of developing an evaluation is determining research questions that will guide data collection and analysis. For example, process evaluation questions focus on whether the program is operating as planned, what services are being delivered to program participants, and barriers and facilitators to implementation. Data sources for process evaluation questions could include program records, patient feedback, and program staff interviews. Outcome evaluation questions may focus on improvements in patients' quality of life, changes in patterns of substance misuse, and whether health outcomes can be directly attributed to the program. Data sources could include patient health records, legislative changes, and local surveillance databases. Some examples of evaluation questions for substance use disorder (SUD) programs are provided below.

Examples of Process Evaluation Questions

  • What SUD treatment services (such as medication, individual counseling, group counseling, vocational services, healthcare navigation) are being delivered and to whom?
  • What were some barriers to program implementation? What helped facilitate implementation?
  • What percentage of patients 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 patients report?
  • What barriers to obtaining and administering naloxone did healthcare providers, law enforcement, emergency medical services, or other relevant groups report?

Examples of Outcome Evaluation Questions

  • Did patients report reductions in quantity or frequency of substance use?
  • Were any policy changes related to distribution of naloxone enacted 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
Document
Defines program evaluation, discusses general considerations for evaluation of SUD treatment programs, and outlines steps for developing an evaluation plan. Provides a detailed framework for planning, evaluating, and interpreting outcomes.
Organization(s): United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime
Date: 2015

The Little Engine that Could: What a Small Rural Hospital Can Do to Address Substance Misuse
Video/Multimedia
Describes the efforts of a Critical Access Hospital in rural Vermont to address the opioid crisis. Discusses the hospital's evaluation activities including the measures used to study program effectiveness.
Organization(s): National Rural Health Resource Center
Date: 1/2018