Heather D. Hadjistavropoulos

Special Issue

The Pitfalls And The Potential Of Early Evaluation Efforts: Lessons Learned From The Health Services Sector


Evaluators often find themselves assuming a variety of roles as they examine programs and interact with the people who are connected to programs. The present article proposes that this is especially true when attempting to conduct an impact evaluation very quickly after a new program is initiated. Given the increasing trends toward program accountability, administrators will often undertake evaluations very quickly after new programs are initiated, and evaluators are increasingly asked to determine the impact of program that is not yet fully functioning. Using examples drawn from the experience of conducting an outcome evaluation of a major reorganization of a health service delivery system very soon after the changes were implemented, the unique challenges and benefits of evaluating a complex program in the early phases following implementation will be highlighted. Specifically, the varied roles that the evaluators were required to assume, and the lessons that they learned from expanding their professional boundaries will be outlined. In addition to the diverse roles that evaluators often occupy (such as educator, consultant, researcher), those conducting early impact evaluations may find themselves acting as protocol trainers, mediators and/or therapists for program staff and administration as they attempt to evaluate the outcome of a program that has not been fully implemented.