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Archive for the ‘OERC’ Category

What Shapes Health? A Story about Data Visualization

Friday, March 13th, 2015

It was an amazing a-ha moment. We kind of blinked at each other, and then simultaneously said ‘We got to do something.’ – Dr. Nancy Hardt, University of Florida

This week on National Public Radio’s (NPR) All Things Considered was a story of what happened when Dr. Nancy Hardt, an OB-GYN, used data from Medicaid birth records to see where children were born into poverty in Gainesville, FL to try and identify ways to intervene and prevent poor childhood health outcomes. She was surprised to see a 1 square mile high-density ‘hot spot’ of births in dark blue appear in her map above. Dr. Hardt was encouraged to share her map with Sheriff Sadie Darnell, who pulled out a map of her own of Gainesville.

Sheriff Darnell’s map showed an exact overlay with the ‘hot spot’ on Dr. Hardt’s map of the highest crime rates in the city. By visiting the area they identified many things in the community that were barriers to good health including hunger, substandard housing, and a lack of medical care facilities – the closest location for uninsured patients was a 2 hour bus ride each way to the county health department. You’ll want to check out the rest of A Sheriff and A Doctor Team Up to Map Childhood Trauma to learn more about a mobile health clinic, what data from additional maps showed, and other steps they have taken since to help improve health outcomes for the community.

This story is the latest from the NPR series What Shapes Health, which was inspired in response to a recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation poll about what beliefs and concerns Americans have regarding health. You can read an overview and download the full report of their results at http://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2015/01/what-shapes-health.html.

Qualitative Evaluation Week

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

The American Evaluation Association (AEA) just concluded a week-long blog theme about qualitative evaluation, which we’ve summarized below for your reference and to consider as part of your own assessment efforts:

  1. The Role of Context – the authors of this entry previously shared five high quality elements of qualitative evaluation,  and this entry referenced them while emphasizing the need for evaluators to understand what role setting, relationships, and other context factors play in data as well.
  2. Purposeful Sampling – a great explanation on why to avoid convenience sampling (interviewing people because they happen to be around) and using caution with your qualitative evaluation terminology to consider not using the word ‘sampling’ due to people’s association of it with random probability.
  3. Interviewing People who are Challenging – establishing rapport leads to good qualitative data, but what does an interviewer do if there seems to be conflict with the interviewee? Details about how to manage your own feelings and approach with a curious mindset are very helpful!
  4. Asking Stupid Questions – this example from a bilingual HIV/AIDS training is especially insightful about the importance of clarifying sexual terms, putting aside concerns the evaluator may have about looking ‘stupid,’ and outcomes that led to deeper engagement and discussion from the group.
  5. Practical Qualitative Analysis – many helpful tips and lessons shared, including the reminder of being sure to group our participants’ responses that answer the same question together even if these replies come from different parts of the survey or interview.
  6. Providing Descriptions – sometimes there are concerns expressed that evaluation is ‘only looking at the negative,’ and by including full details about your qualitative inquiry collection and analysis as an additional resource or appendix you can help explain the steps of the process that otherwise may not be evident.

Need more information about qualitative and other types of evaluation? The Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) has resources available including our Tools and Resources for Evaluation guide and our freely available Planning and Evaluating Health Information Outreach booklet series.

OERC article: Word and Excel Templates

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Here at the Outreach Evaluation Resource Center (OERC) we began 2015 blogging about the CDC Coffee Breaks. For February we’re offering a refill by featuring some notes from a recent American Evaluation Association (AEA) coffee break webcast. Unlike the CDC, the 20 minute AEA coffee break webcasts are not freely available to the public but are an included benefit of AEA membership. The webcast briefly covered best practices in data visualization using two commonly available resources (Microsoft Word and Excel) and how to automate use of them by creating templates for report format consistency and easier workflow.

Some great resources to learn more how to do this and bookmark for future reference include

Specific for Word

Specific for Excel

Evaluation “Soundbites” from the CDC

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Want to build your repertoire of evaluation skills?  Check out Soundbites, a library of evaluation-related podcasts and webinars from the CDC’s Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.  These are archived documents from 20-minute “coffee break” presentations about evaluation. The usual basic topics are represented, such as “Making Logic Models Work for You”  and “How Do I Develop a Survey?” But a number of the presentations cover topics that are not standard fare. Here are just a few titles that caught my eye:

Most presentations consist of PDFs of PowerPoint slides and talking points, but there are a few podcasts as well.  All presentations seem to be bird’s-eye overviews, but the final slides offer transcripts of Q&A discussion and a list of resources for more in-depth exploration of the topic.  It’s a great way to check out a new evaluation interest!

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