QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT EVIDENCE-BASED PROGRAMS

EVIDENCE-BASED PROGRAMS

What is evidence-based practice?


Evidence-based practice is empirically researched approach which is proven to have measurable positive outcomes.




What is the difference between evidence-based practice and best practices?


Evidence-based practice involves critical appraisal of the available research, the formulation of recommendations based on the findings of well-designed and executed studies, and an indication of how solid the evidence is to support the practice. Best practice does not necessarily imply that the practice is proven through rigorous research or based on data. It may be a method or practice that, conventional wisdom suggests, is effective in achieving desired outcomes. These are repeatable procedures that have proven themselves over time. Best practice is often used to indicate what esteemed and highly regarded institutions or practitioners are doing.




What advantages are there to participating in evidence-based programs?


There are a number of advantages to selecting and implementing EBPs.

Increased likelihood of the program working: EBPs are based on rigorous study of interventions and model programs carried out with multiple populations in a variety of settings. So, there is an increased likelihood of the program working.

Ease of use: The manual developed by EBP designers provides step-by-step instructions so the programs can be easily implemented in community settings. Additionally most of these programs comes with evaluation materials so that the community organizations do not need to develop and assess the validity on their own.

Securing funding: Many funding agencies and policymakers require that their funding be used only for evidence-based programs and activities. The positive outcomes demonstrated in research can help secure funding for EBPs.

Participants buy in: Because of technological advancements, potential participants have easier access to information regarding various health promotion programs via the internet. It is increasingly common for potential participants to seek out or request programs that are evidence-based.




What are some of disadvantages of EBPs?


There are some limitations of EBPs that should be considered before planning to implement a program. Cost: Cost is a major constraint in adopting and implementing the EBP. Most EBPs are developed, and copyrighted. There are manuals and other specially developed program materials that organizations have to purchase from program designers. Staff may need to attend specialized training. These expenses do add up, making a program quite costly to implement. Limited adaptability: EBPs are often intended to be implemented exactly as designed, allowing little room for local adaptation. Match with target audience: Sometimes there are few or no EBPs that are both well-suited to meet the needs of targeted audiences and appropriate for their organization and local community setting. Many EBPs were developed for and evaluated after implementation within a particular target audience (e.g., seniors with depression, heart attack survivors, assisted living residents) and may not produce similar results among other audiences.




What is organizational readiness?


Organizational Readiness is assessment of certain factors that increases the chances of the organization’s success in EBP implementation. These include organizational capacity, organization’s knowledge of evidence-based programming, review of strategic plan (long-term goals and the short-term implementation steps for getting there), stakeholder’s support and available resources




Is there a tool that can be used to assess organizational readiness?


We have provided Readiness Questions in our toolkit that can help organizations’ assess their readiness. Please refer to http://evidencetoprograms.com/section/1/3 and follow the links provided for further (sub) sections for readiness questions.





CHOOSING A PROGRAM

How do I select a program best suited for my community?


When selecting a program it is important to keep your audience in mind. In Section 2.7 (http://evidencetoprograms.com/section/2/7), we have listed some of the factors to consider while selecting a program that would suit best for your community.




What are the steps and resources used in selecting and implementing evidence-based programs?


There are multiple steps involved in selecting and implementing EBPs. These include: Identify the primary health issues in your community.

  • Develop measurable process and outcome objectives to assess progress in addressing these health issues.
  • Select effective interventions to help achieve these objectives
  • Implement selected interventions
  • Evaluate selected interventions based on objectives; use this information to improve program
Each step is described on our toolkit website:




Where do I find evidence-based programs?


A number of federal agencies and respected research organizations “certify” or “endorse” programs that meet the organizations’ specified standards for effectiveness. Many of these agencies have established on-line registries, of lists of EBPs that they have identified as effective.
In Section 2.3 “Identifying Evidence-Based Interventions” (http://evidencetoprograms.com/section/2/3) we have a list of databases for EBPs.





PROGRAM EVALUATION

Why do I need to conduct an evaluation?


Various funding agencies want to be sure that the programs they support deliver what they promise. Conducting program evaluation provides this assurance. Also, it helps organization take a critical look at the program for their own purposes, to learn where it is working well and what changes they may need to make in order to optimize the results.




What is an outcome evaluation?


An outcome evaluation is a formal study to assess the effectiveness of a program in producing change. It helps to judge whether a program is working or not. Its aim is to find changes (if any) in participants and show that they result directly from participants’ experience in the program and not from other factors.




What is process evaluation?


Process evaluation assesses the delivery of a program. It helps stakeholders see how a program outcome was achieved. It examines factors such as the extent to which the program is being implemented as designed, whether the target population is being reached, and the quality of program delivery.




How do I prepare to do an outcome evaluation?


To prepare for an outcome evaluation, you must first know whether your program is doing what it set out to do. Second, you must choose a research design for the evaluation and gather the appropriate information.





IMPLEMENTING WITH FIDELITY

What is fidelity?


Fidelity is defined as the extent to which a program is implemented as designed by the developer. It is usually measured by adherence to the program, quantity and quality of delivery and participant’s acceptance of the program.




Does changing or adapting the original design of an evidence-based program mean that it will not be as effective?


Changes can be made to a given program without endangering fidelity. Adaptation or changing the program design is usually done because it makes the program more acceptable to the local needs. At times, the adaptation may be as effective, more effective, or not effective at all. However, before making any changes in the original format of a program, one must contact the program developer and ask about the core components. The developer may have an understanding of how important an omission may be to the outcomes, and you would understand the theoretical foundation that the program is premised on so that you can preserve it when making changes.





PARTICIPANT RECRUITMENT

What are some of the strategies for recruiting participants for the program?


There are many marketing strategies to reach out to the audience. These include but not limited to, word of mouth and referrals, disseminating printed materials through various avenues, cross promotion of programs and linking with relevant organizations/ faith groups.




Which marketing strategy should I use for my audience?


Selecting a marketing strategy depends upon where your audience lives, where they congregate, their interests, and their sources of information. If your audience tends to congregate in certain locations such as senior centers or a church, face-to-face meetings and/or hanging posters in these locations and distributing flyers may be beneficial. For computer savvy audience, email or social media could be used. Program champions could also help to promote the program with word-of-mouth marketing.




What are some participant retention strategies?


A number of strategies can be used to increase the number of enrolled participants completing the program. Some of these are:

  • Offering the program at convenient times and at locations throughout the community
  • Using participants’ time wisely and offering socialization within the program
  • Providing incentives / compensation for participation
  • Encouraging participation from significant others
  • Involving staff members who are similar to participants and foster familiarity between staff and participants





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