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Evaluation Strategies and Considerations for Rural Unintentional Injury Prevention Programs

Rural communities can implement different types of evaluations to measure the progress and successes of their unintentional injury prevention programs.

Involving Affected Community Members and Leaders in Evaluation

Many community members and partners may play a role in the evaluation of a rural unintentional injury prevention program. Evaluations may need to assess the perspective of multiple people to understand the full impact of program activities. For example, program implementers and participants may have different perspectives about the effectiveness of a community education program. Rural communities may find that communicating about early findings helps build support for the program and can contribute to overall sustainability efforts.

Partners can also help with collecting and reporting data for evaluations. For example, North Dakota State University worked with several tribes and traffic safety partners to understand the status of motor vehicle crash reporting and to develop a pilot, web-based crash reporting system. Tribes that implement the system in the future could use it to track trends in motor vehicle injuries and fatalities.

Choosing Appropriate Methods

Rural communities can use a range of qualitative and quantitative methods to demonstrate the impact and value of their program. Examples include:

  • Conducting assessments to identify whether fall hazards have been eliminated from the home after modifications have been made
  • Using a questionnaire to measure pre/post knowledge gains after a community education session
  • Reviewing program documents and sign-in sheets to identify the number of participants trained in CPR techniques
  • Mapping motor vehicle injuries and fatalities to identify patterns in the data after the implementation of a transportation safety program
  • Holding a focus group of farm workers to understand progress, challenges, and facilitators with implementing worksite safety measures and identify suggestions for additional support
  • Conducting an economic assessment to analyze costs associated with changes in injury-related emergency department utilization and hospitalizations

Helping Translate Data

Rural communities evaluating unintentional injury prevention programs should help community members, funders, policymakers, and other interested parties understand the findings of their evaluations. For example, rural communities can have small populations, and the raw number of prevented injuries may be small. Rural evaluators can help contextualize these figures in terms of the population of the rural community or county and provide comparisons with similar rural areas to better demonstrate the achievements of the program. Rural communities may also translate outcomes into cost savings or other figures that could help highlight the importance of their findings. Module 7 provides additional suggestions for disseminating evaluation findings.

Disaggregating Data

Rural communities can consider disaggregating, or separating data into smaller groupings, by sex, age, race, ethnicity, disability status, and other key demographics to understand whether the program's impacts are equitably distributed among participants. Any identified disparities can help rural communities adjust the course of their program and identify additional partners and community members that can help interpret the findings and suggest solutions for addressing inequities.

Resources to Learn More

CDC STEADI: Evaluation Guide for Older Adult Clinical Fall Prevention Programs
Provides a framework for evaluating programs based on CDC's STEADI (stopping elderly accidents, deaths, and injuries) initiative to assist healthcare providers in developing a clinical fall prevention program.
Author(s): Bergen, G., & Shakya, I.
Organization(s): National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 2019

Evaluation Resources: Recommended Sources of Training, Technical Assistance, and Information
Offers a variety of resources covering the significant components of an evaluation program including planning, developing, sampling, analyzing, and reporting.
Organization(s): Safe States

A Guide to SAMHSA's Strategic Prevention Framework
Describes five steps — assessment, capacity, planning, implementation, and evaluation — for developing a prevention plan addressing substance misuse and behavioral health problems. Discusses the importance of integrating cultural competence and sustainability into each step of the plan.
Organization(s): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Date: 6/2019