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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  

This is an archived document. The links are no longer being updated.

TB Notes Newsletter

No. 4, 2005

What’s on Your TB Program Holiday Wish List?

Picture of a wrapped present Fall is in the air, and before you know it, the holidays will be here. More importantly, December 16th will be here! Do you have your TB program wish list ready? Do you have the evidence to support your wish list? Most importantly, do you have an Evaluation Plan for your program so you can have this wish list and the evidence to support it? 

The DTBE deadline for submitting a TB Program Evaluation Plan is December 16.  By now all program managers and staff should have heard the news about TB program evaluations from their Program Consultant as well as other sources. DTBE, along with many other CDC programs, is requiring all state programs to formalize program evaluation following the CDC Program Evaluation Framework. DTBE’s Evaluation Working Group (EWG) has been working to educate TB Controllers on the purpose, process, and products of evaluation. There have been several opportunities for staff to familiarize themselves with program evaluation, including NTCA workshops, webinars, and other in-person trainings.  A Guide to Developing a TB Program Evaluation Plan is currently available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/tb/Program_Evaluation/default.htm and will help you meet that December 16 deadline. Other materials that comprise the TB Program Evaluation Toolkit will be available soon; stay tuned!

Picture of a man looking at a mapWhat’s that you say? You know all this. You’ve read the materials (or at least browsed through them) and you’ve attended at least one training session. But maybe you still don’t know where or how to begin evaluating or planning to evaluate. Exactly what is it that DTBE and the EWG want you to do?  For those conducting their first program evaluation, the materials, terminology, and methods can be overwhelming. For those accustomed to program evaluation, it can be frustrating to change an existing practice to a different standardized, systematic process.

Although change can be daunting or stressful, we want to reassure you that evaluations are going to help all of us in TB control do our jobs better. Planning for evaluations is going to make the evaluation process that much easier. Remember, we are all focused on the same goal: TB elimination. Evaluations will help us get closer to that goal.

Where do I start with my Evaluation Plan?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Set a time for PE.  We are not talking about prevention effectiveness or physical education. Set an hour or so of your week to dedicate to Program Evaluation. During this time, you can follow the steps below to get you started on writing a Program Evaluation Plan. New activities, including evaluation, take time to integrate. Once the system is in place, the process becomes cyclical.
  1. Review your CoAg, Progress Reports and other data sources.  Believe it or not, a good chunk of the information required for your Program Evaluation Plan will come from your CoAg and your Progress Reports. Flip through these documents with program evaluation in mind. Along with the CoAg and Progress Reports, look at other data that monitor your program performance like ARPEs and RVCTs. In what area does your program consistently struggle to meet objectives? In which areas does your program seem to be doing well, despite resource limitations? 
  1. Pick an activity. For first-time evaluation planners, trying to determine programs or objectives to evaluate can be overwhelming. Try to focus on an activity within a program area that aims to meet an objective. Think about geographic areas in your state increasingly susceptible to TB outbreaks. Once you’ve reviewed your program’s existing information, you should have a good idea about which program activities work well and which ones need improvement. Think about your program’s priorities and select an activity or small group of related activities to evaluate. New activities can be evaluated to see that they are implemented as planned; ongoing activities can be evaluated to ensure they are producing the results intended. You have most of the information necessary for a Program Evaluation Plan. Pick an area or activity and go for it!
  1. Read the samples. Go through the materials provided by DTBE’s Evaluation Working Group and first look at the examples. Keep your activity in mind as you read them.  How are the examples similar to your activity? What areas are different?  How can your activity fit in these samples? Again, the best place to start looking at examples, models, and table shells for your Evaluation Plan is http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/tb/Program_Evaluation/default.htm
  1. Trial and Error. Now, give it a go! Once you have the process on paper, it will be easier to rethink and edit. Start writing and create a draft. 
  1. Ask Us! The Evaluation Working Group is here to serve you. We know this is a new process for many of you, and we want to help. We’re happy to look at drafts, help you pick an activity to evaluate, or simply provide moral support. Just let us know! We want you to get all you wished for this holiday season—or at least have a good plan to make a great case for it!  E-mail us at TBEWG@cdc.gov or call Maureen Wilce (404-639-5300) or Kai Young (404-639-2217).

Picture of a question mark Questions, Questions, Questions!

Many of you are moving along with your evaluation plans—or at least thinking about it. You have submitted wonderful questions and have identified areas of confusion to EWG. Here are some frequently asked questions to help.

Q.  What period of time does the Evaluation Plan cover?

A.  The time frame for an evaluation plan depends on the program activity you choose to evaluate. Time frames can vary, but should be realistic, practical, and meaningful for the program. Evaluation Plans become an integrated part of your program process.

Q. Doesn’t the Annual Progress Report already provide sufficient evaluation information?

A.  The Annual Progress Report states whether the program is meeting its objectives or not. It does not provide formal evidence for how those objectives were successfully met or why they were not met. The Evaluation Plan will help you map out a systematic process to gather this information and provide evidence-based findings as a useful decision-making tool for future program planning and continuation. Your Program Evaluation will feed back into your CoAg and become an iterative process.

Q.  My program has no resources to devote to evaluation; how can I meet this requirement?

A.  Program evaluation is a necessary part of program management. It is a systematic process to clarify and make explicit why a program is successful or not. According to the Cooperative Agreement, you should already be actively evaluating your program. We are now asking you to systematize the process and regularly report your progress.

Q.  Do we have to evaluate all of our goals and objectives at our state TB program and all local programs?

A.  No, it is rarely feasible to conduct an evaluation of that scale. Instead, you should work with your stakeholders to identify what information is most needed about the TB program and its activities. A Guide to Developing a TB Program Evaluation Plan can provide you with ideas about focusing your evaluation.

Q.  Do we have to evaluate all components of our program?

A.  No. Although the evaluation process asks you to consider how all components of a program interrelate, it also asks you to focus on priority issues and activities.

Q.  Do we have to use the Guide and Template?

A.  No. The Guide and Template are tools designed to assist you in the process. In addition, your following the Guide will help us provide technical assistance to you if you require it. However, to be considered complete, your plan should address all of the elements listed in the guide.

Q.  The sample plan in the Guide is quite long. Do we have to develop plans that are that extensive?

A. No. The sample plan, as a teaching tool, provides context and explanations that would not be required in your plans. Your evaluation plan need not be more than a few pages long, but needs to address the items requested in the template and tables.

Remember to focus on your goal: an evidence-based TB program wish list!

—Submitted by Anupa Deshpande, MPH, and Linda Leary, BBA
Division of TB Elimination

 


Released October 2008
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