Culture Counts: A Guide to Best Practices for Developing Health Promotion Initiatives in Mental Health and Substance Use with
In chapter 7 - Follow up:
On this page:
Evaluation of any health promotion initiative is important but especially so when ethnocultural communities are involved.
The literature shows relatively few projects have been undertaken in this area, and rigorous evaluation will help others build
on what you have learned from your project.
Also, those who have contributed to your initiative—financial supporters, participants, partner agencies—will want to know
the outcome of their contributions. A thorough outcome evaluation may make the difference in continuation of their support
for the initiative’s goals and involvement in future projects with your organization.
Back when you and your partners were planning the development of your initiative, you wrote an evaluation plan, including how you would gather data to measure the outcomes of the initiative. Now you have to collect the same type of
data in order to see if there has been any statistical change.
Statistics are not the only items to use in your evaluation, however. Events that occurred during the development and running
of the initiative should also be reported. For example, a number of initiatives have found that people taking part in focus
groups run for collecting community input into the initiative have gone on to form groups meeting regularly to offer mutual
support and discuss particular issues. This type of development is an important outcome to note, even if it was not a direct
result of the initiative itself.
Process evaluations done throughout the development and running of the initiative and changes made as a result may help refine
methods and techniques for future projects. Any training done to aid in the development or running of the initiative should
also be noted.
Photos and stories from workers and community members told in their own words (or translated as needed) can also help show
the impact of the initiative. It is important that the community, and especially the intended audience for the initiative,
be involved in the outcome evaluation, so that all outcomes, not just those viewed as important to those who provide the funding
for the initiative, are included.
There’s a Zen riddle that goes, “If a tree falls in a forest, and there’s no one there to hear, does it really fall?”
This can apply to reports of the outcomes of your initiative: If you send out your evaluation report, and nobody reads it,
is there any point in sending out an evaluation report?
The key to producing reports that people will read is to tailor the report to the reader’s needs and interests. In the same
way that you created or adapted your initiative to catch the interest of the intended audience, you have to work to get the
interest of colleagues and others who you hope will be able to use the lessons learned from your initiative.
Of course, this is more work than creating one report to send to everyone. But a “one-size-fits-all” report is more likely
to sit on a shelf gathering dust. You owe it to all the people who gave their time to your initiative to ensure others learn
from it and improve future initiatives in their community and elsewhere.
Written reports are not the only way you and your partners can tell others about what was learned from your initiative:
- Report outcomes to professional colleagues within your own organizations and at conferences, through journals, newsletters.
- Suggest how the initiative may be adapted for use by other ethnocultural communities.
- Present the evaluation results in a variety of formats - slide presentations, brochures, newsletter articles, executive summaries,
Community partners should be involved in creating and distributing reports on the evaluation results. If funds are not available
to translate reports into the community language, community partners may be able to present summaries of the results orally
at community meetings or in brief written format.
“Lack of follow-up is a common problem when working with mainstream organizations. Some examples: recommendations based on
research projects are not implemented; final reports are not sent to us for proper review and validation—we have to ask for
them; staff members leave in the middle of a project and nobody else takes over for them.”
—Naga Ramalingam, SACEM