Ross Norman

Special Issue

The experience of developing a package of instruments to measure the critical characteristics of community support programs for people with a severe mental illness

Authors:
Pages:
159-166

A major challenge for program evaluators is to develop and use measures of program implementation that are both comprehensive and generalizable across programs. The goal is to understand how measures of program characteristics are related to outcomes and, ultimately, to improve program effectiveness. In this brief report, we describe our experience in developing a package of instruments to measure critical characteristics of community support programs for people with a severe mental illness. We highlight three primary methodological challenges encountered: ensuring comprehensiveness, attaining a common understanding of program boundaries, and incorporating multiple perspectives. Potential solutions are discussed. We conclude that, despite these challenges, the goal of model-free measures of program characteristics is essential to enable meaningful program comparisons and to substantiate important process- outcome links.