OBJECTIVES: To address the "millennial morbidities," pediatricians must partner with community-based organizations to develop interventions. Little is known about the capacity of the resulting programs for program evaluation or the importance of evaluation in project success and sustainability. The objective of this study was to examine the capacity of community-based health programs to conduct project evaluations and determine the impact of project evaluation on project outcome.
METHODS: Project directors from 149 community-based programs funded from 1989 to 2003 through the Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program were surveyed regarding their project experience with evaluation and documentation of project outcomes and the current status of their project.
RESULTS: Program directors from 123 (83%) programs completed the survey. Despite barriers to the evaluation process, 83% of the respondents indicated that their evaluations produced useful information. Programs that were described by respondents as "well evaluated" were more likely to report that the evaluation was implemented as planned and that the evaluation included outcome measures. Projects were more likely to be sustained in their original form when at least 1 outcome was reported on the survey.
CONCLUSIONS: Evaluation of community-based programs, although challenging, is beneficial to project success and sustainability. Policy makers and funding agencies should consider ways to encourage community partnerships to incorporate evaluation into their planning process.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/david_keller1/6/