Julio Arboleda-Florez

Fall

Utilization Isn't Everything

Authors:
Pages:
93-102

This article examines an unanticipated problem associated with the successful implementation of the "utilization-focused" method of evaluation described by Patton. The study involved the development and evaluation of a suicide screening instrument for use by the Alberta Solicitor General's Department. To maximize the possibility that these results would be useful, a utilization-focused approach was adopted. We will describe the evolution of the project over a series of stages, from identifying stakeholders to preparing a final report. Although this method improved utilization of results, the enthusiasm generated created a Hawthorne effect, making it difficult to meet the study's original objective of assessing the validity of the screening. We discuss the process rather than the content of this evaluation, and the problems encountered, in a way that highlights some of the inevitable trade-offs involved in applied research.