Program Planning and Evaluation
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 22 April 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0027
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 22 April 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0027
At the most basic level, program planning is a process that is designed to address questions such as “What is needed?” and “How will the needs be addressed?” Through a systematic process the answers to these questions form the basis of an intervention approach. Program evaluation focuses on addressing whether the intervention is working. Evaluation includes questions related to how and if a program is working as it was intended and if there are any unintended consequences. With a new intervention, program planning is obviously the initial mandate, but over the life of the program, planning and evaluation are both part of an ongoing cycle of continuous improvement and renewal. The methods and approaches used in program planning and evaluation occur throughout the lifecycle of a program—from planning and implementing to assessing outcomes. Typically, the program planning cycle begins with the needs assessment process (see Oxford Bibliographies article titled Needs Assessment), progresses to identifying strategies to address needs, and then moves into implementation and evaluation that occurs in a continuous cycle, which facilitates ongoing review of needs and program improvement. In practice, the process and methods used in needs assessment and program planning are the same for evaluation; for example, connecting with stakeholders, developing a program description, specifying a target process and outcomes, identifying or developing measures, designing and collecting data, and disseminating results. Generally speaking, the roles and competencies of program planners overlap with those of evaluators. In the past, some authors have addressed program planning and evaluation separately; however, they are highly interrelated. When a clear program plan is not in place, it is difficult and often impossible to conduct a credible evaluation, and over the long-term evaluation will include program planning as the program is improved or modified to meet evolving needs. Because the types of questions addressed in program planning and evaluation are relevant to a broad array of disciplines including education, business, health, and the social sciences there are a range of perspectives and resources available on the topic. Whether planning or evaluating, the practitioner applies theory, research findings, and the most rigorous methods possible to a real-world setting to address practical questions relevant to stakeholders including funders, those who benefit from a program, or others who have some connection or interest in the problem being addressed. The methods applied seek to apply the logic of science in settings that cannot be controlled and are often highly political in nature. Thus, program planning and evaluation are as much art as science; they are part of an ongoing cycle of development, improvement, and adaptation in public health programs.
A number of excellent introductory materials and resources are available online including Building Healthy Communities, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. The Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health (Centers for Disease Control 1999) and the Program Evaluation Toolkit (Porteous, et al. 1997) both lead the user through the stages of program evaluation. The Community Toolbox (Work Group for Community Health and Development 2010), sponsored by the University of Kansas, is a comprehensive website for program planners and evaluators that also links users to a variety of helpful resources. The Evaluation Checklists Site includes a variety of practical checklists for those involved in planning and conducting an evaluation. Mathison 2005 is an excellent source of succinct information on a broad range of fundamental topics in planning and evaluation. The Online Health Program Planner from Public Health Ontario is a practical resource with step-by-step guidelines for planning.
Centers for Disease Control. 1999. Framework for program evaluation in public health. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 48.RR-11.
A widely used framework comprised of six steps in program evaluation practice and four key standards for effective program evaluation (i.e., utility, feasibility, propriety, and accuracy). Provides a good model for thinking about the steps involved in planning and evaluating a program. For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control’s Office of the Associate Director for Program: Program Evaluation
This Western Michigan University website provides checklists for every aspect of the evaluation process (e.g., designing, implementing, report writing, etc.). A practical guide for many aspects of evaluation practice.
Mathison, Sandra, ed. 2005. Encyclopedia of evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Concise descriptions on a broad range of topics related to the who, what, where, how, and why of evaluation. A good source for introductory information about any topic related to evaluation and planning. Some additional resources on each topic are also provided.
Porteous, Nancy L., Barbara J. Sheldrick, and Paula J. Stewart. 1997. Program evaluation toolkit: A blue print for public health management. Ottawa, Canada: Ottawa-Carleton Health Department.
This resource describes the evaluation process in five major steps, beginning with “Focusing the Evaluation.” There are worksheets for each step that are very useful for evaluators and planners at all levels.
Online Health Program Planner 2.0. Public Health Ontario.
Provides health planning tools, including worksheets. A six-step program plan to facilitate evidence-informed decision making. A Business Case Creator guides the user through three steps designed to help make a decision about whether a project should move forward. A practical site for professionals at all levels. French and English.
This website provides resources to support the Foundation’s mission to “develop, capture, and communicate useful and usable information for key stakeholders and other audiences.” This website is a widely used, excellent source of information with step-by-step guides and user tools.
Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas. 2010. Part J, Evaluating community programs and initiatives. In The community toolbox. Lawrence: Univ. of Kansas.
Located within the Community Toolbox website, this toolbox has been recognized as the world’s largest resource for supporting community health and capacity building. Part J, which covers chapters 36, 37, 38, and 39, offers users excellent support for planning and conducting program evaluation. Provides a practical step-by-step guide with resources, real world examples, and hyperlinks to other sites. Users should click through on links for additional sections.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Access to Health Care
- Action Research
- Active Aging
- Active Living
- Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior in the United States
- Advocacy, Public Health
- Agricultural Safety and Public Health
- Air Quality: Health Effects
- Air Quality: Indoor Health Effects
- Alcohol Availability and Violence
- Alternative Research Designs
- Ambient Air Quality Standards and Guidelines
- American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
- Asthma in Children
- Attachment as a Health Determinant
- Behavior Change Theory in Health Education and Promotion
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
- Bicycling and Cycling Safety
- Birth and Death Registration
- Birth Cohort Studies
- Board of Health
- Built Environment and Health, The
- Business and Corporate Practices
- Cancer Communication Strategies in North America
- Cancer Prevention
- Cancer Screening
- Capacity Building
- Capacity Building for NCDs in LMICs
- Capacity-Building for Applied Public Health in LMIC: A US ...
- Cardiovascular Health and Disease
- Child Maltreatment
- Children, Air Pollution and
- Children, Injury Risk-Taking Behaviors in
- Children, Obesity in
- Citizen Advisory Boards
- Climate Change and Human Health
- Climate Change: Institutional Response
- Clinical Preventive Medicine
- Community Air Pollution
- Community Development
- Community Gardens
- Community Health Assessment
- Community Partnerships and Coalitions
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Complexity and Systems Theory
- Definition of Health
- Dental Public Health
- Design and Health
- Dietary Guidelines
- Ecological Approaches
- Enabling Factors
- Environmental Laws
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Ethics of Public Health
- Evidence-Based Public Health Practice
- Family Planning Services and Birth Control
- Food Safety
- Food Security and Food Banks
- Food Systems
- Frail Elderly
- Functional Literacy
- Genomics, Public Health
- Geographic Information Systems
- Geography and Health
- Global Health
- Global Health Diplomacy
- Global Health Promotion
- Guide to Community Preventive Services, The
- Health Administration
- Health Communication
- Health Disparities
- Health Education
- Health Impact Assessment
- Health in All Policies
- Health in All Policies in European Countries
- Health Literacy
- Health Literacy and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Health Measurement Scales
- Health Planning
- Health Promoting Hospitals
- Health Promotion
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Healthy People Initiative
- Hepatitis C
- High Risk Prevention Strategies
- Human Rights, Health and
- Immigrant Populations
- Immunization and Pneumococcal Infection
- Indigenous Peoples, Public Health and
- Indigenous Populations of North America, Australasia, and ...
- Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
- Internet Applications in Promoting Health Behavior
- Intersectoral Strategies in Low - Middle Income Countries ...
- Justice, Social
- Knowledge Translation and Exchange
- Knowledge Utilization and Exchange
- Law of Public Health in the United States
- Media Advocacy
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Promotion
- Migrant Health
- Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention
- Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
- National Association of Local Boards of Health
- National Public Health Institutions
- Needs Assessment
- Obesity Prevention
- Occupational Cancers
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Ottawa Charter
- Parenting and Work
- Parenting Skills and Capacity
- Participatory Action Research
- Patient Decision Making
- Pesticide Exposure and Pesticide Health Effects
- Physical Activity and Exercise
- Physical Activity Promotion
- Polio Eradication in Pakistan
- Population Aging
- Population Determinants of Unhealthy Foods and Beverages
- Population Health Objectives and Targets
- Precautionary Principle
- Prenatal Health
- Program Evaluation in American Health Education
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Public Health, History of
- Public Health Surveillance
- Public-Private Partnerships in Public Health Research and ...
- Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent and Manage Obesity ...
- Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment
- Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies
- Randomized Controlled Trials
- Real World Evaluation Strategies
- Reducing Obesity-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic an...
- Rural Health in the United States
- Safety, Patient
- Sex Education in HIV/AIDS Prevention
- Skin Cancer Prevention
- Smoking Cessation
- Social Determinants of Health
- Social Epidemiology
- Social Marketing
- Statistics in Public Health
- Systems in the United States, Public Health
- Systems Theory in Public Health
- Traditional, Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative M...
- Translation of Science to Practice and Policy
- Traumatic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Tuberculosis among Adults and the Determinants of Health
- Unintentional Injury Prevention
- Urban Health
- Vaccine Hesitancy
- Violence Prevention
- Water Quality
- Water Quality and Water-Related Disease
- Weight Management in US Occupational Settings
- Worksite Health Promotion