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Program Evaluation in Public Health

Introduction

Program evaluation is an imperative process in public health as it helps the implementers of a program to gain imperative information that enables them to determine the course of action during implementation in order to improve the program. In addition, the implementers are able to determine the effectiveness of the program. Since the process of program evaluation involves the use of research methods, it helps in making evidence-based decisions. This paper is a description of the program evaluation process of dental caries at the community level. Using the social media and mobile clinics as the means through which awareness and service delivery will be administered, this evaluation process will determine the alignment of these modes of program implementation with the program’s goal and objectives. Evaluation will focus on both process and outcome evaluation to determine the progress of the program in order to facilitate improvement tailored towards achieving the overall goals. Thus, the paper will delineate the two evaluation processes and the guiding indicators/objectives at each stage of evaluation.

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Process Evaluation

This process entails the assessment of the progress of the program to determine if its operations, implementation process, and modes of service delivery are proceeding on well as expected (Public Health Ontario, 2012). A survey aimed to collect qualitative data is ideal in carrying out process evaluation because it will give a detailed account of the ongoing activities from the participant’s point of view. This data will be collected at a certain point in time. Subsequently, this information helps to determine the emerging shortcomings; thus, make prompt solutions (Sharma & Petosa, 2014). This way, it is easy for the implementers to remain accountable and committed to achieving the ultimate goal. As noted by Issel (2014), a process evaluation will help to ensure that the program’s input is in check. In the project of dental carries, program evaluation will be guided by the following objectives:

To determine the amount of information disseminated in a day and its appropriateness

The amount of content delivered within a certain time depends on various processes, such as the availability and commitment of result-oriented facilitators, access to evidence-based information, and availability of time for the involved professionals to research and post relevant and informative content. Also, the validity of the information based on the message intended to be communicated will be determined by using short open-ended, researcher-administered questionnaires at the community level.

To determine the level of response from the targeted population and participation in the mobile clinics

Ensuring that the targeted population participates in this program by responding to content that is posted and asking related questions will be an indication that the program’s activities are well known to the community. Otherwise, there will be a need to engage in community mobilizing by placing posters on public notice boards and putting up large banners to inform the public of the ongoing program activities. The people attending the free clinics will help to determine the suitability of the locality and if there will be a need of moving to different strategic spots within a week.

Feedback

Social media, in this case, Facebook will allow the participants of the program to comment on the suitability, relevance, and benefit of the program in relation to dental caries. Participants attending the mobile clinics will be asked to give their feedback on the Facebook site. The evaluators at this stage will determine the numbers of people attending the clinics and feedback so as to determine any problem that would be preventing the patients from giving their feedback, which is very imperative for this program.

Outcome Evaluation

Here, the evaluation process will determine the attainment of the program’s impact on the targeted population in relation to the program’s overall goals. This stage will entail the use of quantitative data before and after the program.

  • Increased Awareness
    The main goal of this program is to increase the target’s population awareness of proper teeth hygiene to prevent dental carries and enforce the alleviation of the already extant dental carries. This will be determined using a pre-posttest technique; questionnaires before and after the program will be given to individuals within the targeted community and a difference in both tests will determine if the program increased the knowledge levels of the targeted population on how to take care of its teeth.
  • Teeth status
    The dentists will document the status of the teeth of the targeted population before and after the program and comparisons made. The teeth status after the program will confirm the essence of scaling up the strategies or adapting them elsewhere in order to prevent dental carries and minimize its effects.

Behavior Change

A questionnaire assessing behavior prior to and after the program will help to determine behavior change.

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In conclusion, process evaluation helps to ensure that the program is on the right track towards the attainment of the program’s outcomes. The use of quantitative data helps to gain a detailed account of the gaps prevailing during program implementation from the participants. The outcome evaluation process mainly deals with quantitative data aimed to determine a change after the program by comparing before and after data.

References

Issel, L. M. (2014). Health program planning and evaluation: A practical, systematic approach for community health (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Public Health Ontario. (2012). Evaluating health promotion programs. Web.

Sharma, M., & Petosa, R. L. (2014). Measurement and evaluation for health educators. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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