Skip all navigation and go to page content
NN/LM Home About OERC | Contact Us | Feedback |OERC Sitemap | Help | Bookmark and Share

Freebie Friday: CDC Program Evaluation Resources

CDC Program Evaluation Guide Cover

Are you new to evaluation or need assistance with planning and implementing program evaluation resources from a public or community health perspective for your projects?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a freely available ‘how to’ resource for you with an Introduction to Program Evaluation for Public Health Programs: A Self Study Guide. Examples of public and community health programs that can be considered for program evaluation include direct service interventions, community-based mobilization efforts, research initiatives into issues such as health disparities, advocacy work, and training programs. The guide is available online or as a PDF download that consists of a six step process (from Engaging Stakeholders to Ensure Use of Evaluation Findings), a helpful Glossary of program evaluation terminology, and Resources for additional publications, toolkits and more to support public and community health program evaluation work.

A related CDC guide (A Framework for Program Evaluation) is one of several resources we at the Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) feature in the Evaluation Planning section of our Tools and Resources for Evaluation Page at http://guides.nnlm.gov/oerc/tools

 

Elegantly Simple Evaluation: Talking to Health Care Providers about Patient Health Literacy

logo for the VIVA project

By Yawar Ali and Cindy Olney

As the child of a physician living in South Texas, I’ve witnessed a deficiency of health literacy in patients. I volunteered in my dad’s clinic over spring break. I also participated on a medical relief trip with my father to a nonprofit charitable hospital in Pakistan. At both places, I witnessed difficulty in patient health literacy. – Yawar Ali

 In June 2014, Yawar Ali, a rising junior from the South Texas High School for Health Professions, taught physicians and physician assistants in his father’s medical clinics about patient health literacy. He also introduced them to MedlinePlus as an important tool for their patients. Yawar evaluated his project and discovered valuable insight that helped him improve the impact of his project.

Yawar conducted this health information outreach project as an internship offered through the  ¡VIVA! (Vital Information for a Virtual Age) project.  ¡VIVA! is a high school-based initiative in which students are trained to promote MedlinePlus to their classmates, teachers, families, and community members.  It is a student organization led by librarians of the South Texas Independent School District, located in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The National Library of Medicine (NLM) funds the project.

He developed his presentation using health literacy materials available through the Medical Library Association and presented to three doctors and three PAs.  He taught them seven steps for addressing low patient health literacy and introduced them to MedlinePlus.

Yawar incorporated elegantly simple evaluation techniques into his project. Right after the presentation, he asked participants to complete a short evaluation form, asking them how likely they were to use the steps and promote MedlinePlus to patients.  They all responded positively, indicating good intentions.

Two weeks after the training, Yawar visited all of the health care providers to conduct brief semi-structured interviews. He asked if they had tried the steps and collected their feedback on the techniques. He also checked to see if they had promoted MedlinePlus to their patients. With some persistence, he was able to conduct a complete interview with each participant.

The feedback he received is of interest to anyone hoping to initiate health information outreach in partnership with primary care clinics, particularly in medically underserved areas:

  • The majority of Yawar’s participants tried teach-back, open-ended questions, and other techniques with their patients; but they were conflicted because such techniques added time to patient appointments. This interfered with their ability to stick to their busy schedules.
  • The health care providers were impressed with MedlinePlus, but they had convenient access to print materials from a database (Healthwise) that was integrated with the clinic’s Electronic Health Records (EHR) system. Furthermore, it was easier to document that they were adhering to the meaningful use requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs when they got patient information from Healthwise.
  • While the Healthwise database was more convenient for the providers, they recognized that the print information they were providing was limited. They believed their patients could get more comprehensive information from MedlinePlus, but the clinicians did not have a convenient way to promote the resource.

Their feedback prompted a speedy response. The project team secured MedlinePlus brochures from NLM that Yawar delivered to the clinics. The fix was relatively simple, but critical. The team may have never known about this necessary adjustment without Yawar’s elegantly simple evaluation.

Credit:  Yawar and Cindy would like to thank ¡VIVA! project team members Lucy Hansen, Sara Reibman, and Ann Vickman, for their help on this project.

The ¡VIVA! project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health, under Contract No. HHSN-276-2011-0007-C with the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library.

 

 

 

Freebie Friday: Audit an Evaluation MOOC

Have you always been curious about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and haven’t yet checked them out, or have started a MOOC and not completed it because you found the format confusing or didn’t have the time to complete all the assignments in it?

Evaluating Social Programs is currently being offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) within one of the easier-to-navigate open access MOOC formats, EdX. The course is now closed for registration for credit, but can still be accessed for free to audit with complete access to the instructional materials, activities, tests and discussions within the MOOC. It is estimated that full participation in each week of the course will take approximately 4 hours, but of course you are welcome to skip around and access the information that is of interest to you. I am currently auditing the MOOC while taking note of new resources and information that is likely to be of interest to you from a health program evaluation perspective this month, and will write a summary blog post in November.

The class description is:

This four and a half-week course on evaluating social programs will provide a thorough understanding of randomized evaluations and pragmatic step-by-step training for conducting one’s own evaluation. Through a combination of lectures and case studies from real randomized evaluations, the course will focus on the benefits and methods of randomization, choosing an appropriate sample size, and common threats and pitfalls to the validity of the experiment. While the course is centered around the why, how and when of Randomized Evaluations, it will also impart insights on the importance of a needs assessment, measuring outcomes effectively, quality control, and monitoring methods that are useful for all kinds of evaluations.

If you are interested in participating in Evaluating Social Programs and have not previously taken an EdX MOOC, I highly recommend checking out the 15 minute self-navigated DemoX which provides a very user-friendly overview of how to make the best use of the features within EdX.

 

Qualitative Data Visualization

Flowchart of text, text with illustrations, then illustrations leading to additional text

Have you thought that only quantitative information can be used for data visualizations, and qualitative data wasn’t an option without first coding or otherwise turning this valuable content into quantitative formats?

I learned about an innovative and compelling approach to creating qualitative data visualizations with illustrations from Fresh Spectrum . They begin the process (as shown in the illustration above) of taking a long narrative such as a focus group transcription, and chunking it into a few paragraphs per concept with a unique illustration for each one. In this case custom illustrations of people were used, but you could use your organization’s existing images or Creative Commons-licensed images for illustrating concepts. The next step for the visualization uses the images with brief captions as an online data dashboard, where visitors can click on the captioned image of interest to them to then access the more detailed narrative. The author describes how to do this within a WordPress portfolio blog template, or a simpler strategy of creating HTML anchor links to each individual section within a longer text. You can see how this works by clicking on an anchor link from the original post (http://freshspectrum.com/blogging-advice/#davidson for example) that leads to the longer narrative at http://freshspectrum.com/blogging-advice/ (a great source of advice for blogging by the way!)

Need more information about reporting and visualizing your data? We at the Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) have more resources available for you from the Reporting and Visualizing tab of our Tools and Resources for Evaluation Guide at http://guides.nnlm.gov/oerc/tools and welcome your suggestions and comments about the guide.

Elegantly Simple Evaluation: Documenting Outcomes of a New England Health Literacy Project

For an example of an elegantly simple program evaluation that yielded great results, check out an article by Michelle Eberle and colleagues in the National Network of Libraries of Medicine New England Region, which appeared in the August 2014 edition of MLA News . The article describes the region’s Clear: Conversations project, a collaboration among five organizations in which librarians and health professionals taught health literacy skills to patients. This innovative project, originated by Health Care Missouri, featured role-plays of patients in which they practice good patient communication skills during a visit to a health care provider (played by volunteers from various health professions).

This project shows that a few relatively simple evaluation activities can clearly show the positive outcomes of a project. For example, after their role-play, participants gave high ratings to their satisfaction with the information they received during their “doctor visit.”   When completing the multi-session program, a strong majority said the program improved their comfort with employing effective communication techniques with their own health care providers. More than half of respondents completing the second questionnaire described specific actions they intended to use in future visits to health care providers. Also, the health professional role-players provided their own feedback about how their experiences would affect their own interactions with patients.

The evaluation methods used for the Clear: Conversations project were fairly simple, but well-planned. Eberle and her colleagues developed their evaluation methods in the project planning stage and consulted with the NN/LM OERC on method design. As a result, the team was able to collect information that clearly demonstrated, both to themselves and others, the value of their project.

The OERC would like to highlight more examples of evaluations that are both effective and relatively easy to implement.  If you know of other projects that we can showcase in our Elegantly Simple Evaluation series, please contact Cindy Olney at olneyc@uw.edu.

Art of Analytics Tableau Keynote

Data Analysis is a Creative Process

This week the Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) enjoyed an intensive time of data information and learning with over 5,500 others during the Tableau Conference in Seattle.

Christian Chabot, Tableau’s CEO, provided the first part of a compelling keynote address of the conference that may seem surprising for a meeting about data: a focus on creativity. Chabot focused on innovation, noting the breakthroughs for technology to first empower user creativity with Adobe’s PostScript (the beginning of desktop publishing), and computer aided design (CAD) instead of relying on subject matter experts to produce the projects in a physical format from start to finish with limited options for revision. He concluded that the world from an artist’s perspective and data analysis perspective are not opposites but that both seek to reveal truth and impart meaning as a part of their work.

For the rest of the keynote Dr. Chris Stolte, Tableau’s Chief Development Officer, showed how in the past software tools required high levels of expertise to use. Dr. Stolte noted that they are trying to incorporate a greater sense of working in a user-friendly way with the data, not the software, to give users creative flow, feedback and flexibility and live demonstrated many new features Tableau has on the horizon.

You can see these demonstrations and learn more about these by watching the keynote recording or the overview Tableau wrote at http://www.tableausoftware.com/about/blog/2014/9/keynote-32970.

Freebie Friday: AEA’s Potent Presentation Information

Logo with focus on message, design, and delivery

The American Evaluation Association (eval.org) sponsors a Potent Presentations Initiative (p2i) that has a stated purpose of helping evaluators improve their presentation skills, both within a conference setting and as part of individual practice. P2i challenges evaluators to hone in on three concepts: Their message, their design, and their delivery.

There are a wealth of handouts available as PDF files,Word documents and Powerpoint presentations available from the p2i tools website (http://p2i.eval.org/index.php/p2i-tools/) that sometimes include AEA conference specifications in addition to many great messaging, designing and delivery principles. For an example of each principle be sure to check out the Presentation Preparation Checklist (from 3 months ahead of time to afterwards to include modifications while the information is freshly in mind), How to Design a Research Poster (great infographic visualization and instructions on how to make your data ‘pop’), and the Delivery Glue Handout (did you know as a general rule it takes 16 times the length of your talk to make presentation slides and a script?).

New OERC Webinar: Eval 2.0

The OERC debuted a brand new webinar for the NN/LM Greater Midwest Region’s monthly Lake Effects webinar series on August 21. The new webinar, Evaluation 2.0: Trends, New Ideas, Cool Tools, presents emerging trends in evaluation practice that emphasize stakeholder interaction and social engagement. It also covers popular tools and methods that allow you to draw others into the evaluation process and raise the visibility of your program or services. The NN/LM GMR makes recordings of Lake Effects presentations publicly available, so click here to listened to the  Eval 2.0 webinar.

If you are interested in attending a live presentation of this webinar, please contact the OERC or your National Network of Libraries of Medicine regional office. Descriptions of other  OERC webinars that can be offered upon request are listed here.

Cover slide for Eval 2.0 presentation

Some Great Examples of Library Dashboards

At the Library Assessment Conference in August, one panel featured assessment librarians presenting data dashboards they created using Tableau software. Our colleagues often ask OERC staff  for good examples of library dashboards, so I am excited that the PowerPoint slides of Tableau Unleashed: Visualizing Library Data are publicly available . This document includes views of dashboards from University of British Columbia Library (by presenter Jeremy Buhler), UMass Amherst Libraries (by Rachel Lewellen) and Ohio State Libraries (by Sarah Murphy). All of the presenters used Tableau software to produce their dashboards.

Tableau may be the most popular software for creating dashboards right now and the company offers a free version that has a great deal of functionality. In fact, at least one presenter (Sarah Murphy) included dashboards she created using Tableau Public. However, users must be cautioned that any data entered into Tableau Public become public information.  That means anyone can see and download your raw data. So, if you use it, be sure all identifying information about individuals is stripped from your files and that you are comfortable with other people downloading your raw data.

The presenters included some tips for dashboard design, which you will find in their slides.  If you want more comprehensive guidance, check out A Guide to Creating Dashboards People Love to Use by Juice Analytics. The guide is free and downloadable.

Cover slide for Tableau Unleashed

Logic Models for Library Assessment Planning

The Engaged Librarian: Crafting an Effective Assessment Plan to Determine the Impact of a Key Strategic Library Initiative by Sarah Murphy at The Ohio State University (OSU) was presented during the Library Assessment Conference and provided an overview to the use of a logic model as part of library strategic planning. Ms. Murphy’s presentation slides are available by clicking here.

Their project incorporated the theory of change methodology with logic models and used the Kellogg Foundation Logic Model as a template. They storyboarded data within a data dashboard that was both aligned with and broken down by the applicable OSU strategic vision goals. Ms. Murphy reported that the benefits of using a logic model approach included having a flexible but structured way to do library assessment planning, having a collaborative and inclusive approach, creating a project focus, being able to assess linear and iterative programs and services, and the ability to communicate program accomplishments in interesting ways. During the question and answer session they noted they are also Tableau fans (we will write about Tableau for our next post) and like to create data structures in their dashboard to avoid information silos.

If you’d like to learn more about logic models and data dashboards, be sure to check out our freely available Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) Evaluation Guides, especially Planning Outcomes-Based Outreach Projects. We also offer Data Dashboards: Monitoring Progress toward Program Outcomes as one of our webinars and a recording of Data Dashboards is available by clicking here.