Public Health Assessment & Program Evaluation

 Types of Program Evaluation

Last Updated: August 06, 2018

The table below1 describes a variety of evaluation types, what they are, when to use them, what they can show, and why they are useful.

Evaluation Type
What it is       When to use      What it shows

      Why it is useful

Formative Evaluation

A method for judging the worth of a program while the program activities are forming (in progress).
  • During the development of a new program
  • When an existing program is being modified or is being used in a new setting or with a new population
  • Whether the proposed program elements are likely to be needed, understood, and accepted by the population you want to reach
  • The extent to which an evaluation is possible, based on the goals and objectives
  • It allows for modifications to be made to the plan before full implementation begins
  • Maximizes the likelihood that the program will succeed

Evaluability Assessment

A systematic process that helps identify whether program evaluation is justified, feasible, and likely to provide useful information.

Needs Assessment

A systematic process for collecting information that identifies key health needs and issues within a specific group or community.

Process Evaluation

The systematic collection of information to determine the extent to which policies, programs, or initiatives have been implemented as intended and to which program improvements are need to implement it as planned.
  • As soon as program implementation begins
  • During operation of an existing program
  • How well the program is working
  • The extent to which the program is being implemented as designed
  • Whether the program is accessible an acceptable to its target population
  • Provides an early warning for any programs that may occur
  • Allows programs to monitor how well their program plans and activities are working

Program Monitoring

The continuous assessment of a program or intervention.

Outcome Evaluation

A systematic process for collecting information to determine the degree to which, if at all, a policy, program or initiative is affecting the intended target population(s) and whether or not program improvements are needed to achieve intended outcomes.
  • After the program has made contact with at least one person or group in the target population
  • The degree to which the program is having an effect of the target population's behaviors
  • Tells whether the program is being effective in meeting it's objectives



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Summative Evaluation

A method of judging the worth of a program at the end of the program activities

Economic Evaluation

A systematic process for identifying resources being used to implement a policy, program, or initiative and their costs (direct and indirect) to determine if substantiated outcomes justify the allocation of Army resources. 
  • At the beginning of a program
  • During the operation of an existing program
  • What resources are being used in a program and their costs (direct and indirect) compared to outcomes
  • Provides program managers and funders a way to assess cost relative to effects

Impact Evaluation

A systematic process for collecting information to determine whether or not an initiative or program is effective in achieving its ultimate goals. 
  • During the operation of an existing program at appropriate intervals
  • At the end of a program
  • The degree to which the program meet its ultimate goal on an overall rate of something
  • Provides evidence for use in policy and funding decisions

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Evaluation Type Definitions2
  • Needs Assessment - a systematic process for collecting information that identifies key health needs and issues within a specific group or community.  Needs assessment is conducted prior to the development of new policies, programs or initiatives and also when existing activities are being modified or used in a new setting or with a different target audience to determine which needs should be addressed and how. 

  • Literature review - a systematic process of collecting information about a specific topic or issue through the review of studies/literature to determine if there is scientific evidence and/or theory to support that proposed program activities will result in desired outcomes.

  • Process evaluation - the systematic collection of information to determine the extent to which policies, programs, or initiatives have been implemented as intended and to which program improvements are need to implement it as planned.  Process evaluation is conducted at the inception of the policy, program, or initiative, and periodically throughout its life cycle and is a critical element of the quality and/or process improvement cycle.

  • Cost-effectiveness evaluation - a systematic process for identifying resources being used to implement a policy, program, or initiative and their costs (direct and indirect) to determine if substantiated outcomes justify the allocation of Army resources.  Cost-effectiveness evaluation is conducted at inception of the policy, program or initiative and periodically throughout its life cycle.

  • Outcome evaluation - a systematic process for collecting information to determine the degree to which, if at all, a policy, program or initiative is affecting the intended target population(s) and whether or not program improvements are needed to achieve intended outcomes.  Outcome evaluation is conducted after program activities have been implemented among the intended target population(s).

  • Impact evaluation - a systematic process for collecting information to determine whether or not an initiative or program is effective in achieving its ultimate goals.  Impact evaluation is conducted periodically throughout the life cycle of an initiative or program and at the end of the program.

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    References

    1.  Adapted from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Types of Evaluation websiteExternal Link. Date accessed 31 July 2018. 

    2.  Definitions adapted from Department of Army Pamphlet 40-11 (Army Public Health)External Link.

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