Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

A Systematic Approach to Process Evaluation in the Central Oklahoma Turning Point (COTP) Partnership

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

A Systematic Approach to Process Evaluation in the Central Oklahoma Turning Point (COTP) Partnership

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Background: Formation is an important stage of partnership development. Purpose: To describe the systematic approach to process evaluation of a Turning Point initiative in central Oklahoma during the formation stage. The nine-month collaborative effort aimed to develop an action plan to promote health. Methods: A sound planning-framework was used in the design of a systematic approach to process evaluation. Mixed (qualitative and quantitative) methodology was used, including stakeholder interviews, surveys, and attendance logs. Results: Reach to the meetings ranged from 38% to 70%. "Collaboration membership" was statistically significantly associated with high attendance at the meetings. Strengths of the collaborative process included stakeholder diversity, a strong organizational structure and the use of a democratic collaborative process. Discussion: Building effective collaborative skills among the stakeholders early in the planning phase can be instrumental in promoting participation during the formation stage. In addition, emphasis should be given in strengthening-supporting of the coalition processes, coalition structures, leadership and staff. Translation to Health Education Practice: Process evaluation is a valuable tool for the continuous monitoring of the quality of the collaborative process during the formation stage, and therefore, minimum process evaluation measures should be incorporated at the early stages of the partnership development.

BACKGROUND

Process evaluation is defined as the measurements obtained during the implementation of a project in order to "control, assure or improve the quality of performance of delivery." (1) Through the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data, evaluators can provide continuous feedback to the program implementers and assist them in modifying components of the intervention to continually enhance its quality. (2) In the area of partnership and coalition development, most process evaluation is conducted in the form of a monitoring system that tracks both process measures (e.g., member participation, planning products, media coverage, meetings, budget allocations) and intermediate measures, such as community actions, delivery and ratings of satisfaction with the collaborative process. Moreover, most of the process evaluation is conducted during the implementation and maintenance stage. (3) However, a community partnership goes through other important stages in its development, such as pre-formation and formation. (4)

The pre-formation stage includes identifying potential members to recruit, conducting a needs assessment, and collecting surveillance data. The formation stage involves clarifying issues, recruiting members, formalizing rules and procedures, developing policy and procedure manuals, clearly defining roles and expectations from members, developing written goals and objectives, and developing an action plan and mission statement. (4,5) Formation has been defined as the "initial building of the coalition as an organization." (6) During formation key leaders and staff develop structures and operating procedures, build strong relationships and trust among the stakeholders, and conduct assessment and planning that will lead to the implementation of effective functioning of the coalition. (7)

Despite the importance of the formation stage, few studies have incorporated process evaluation in the initial formation of a public health community collaboration. (7-9) Historically, little emphasis has been given to evaluation as resources are more likely to be spent on interventions that are visible to stakeholders. (10) Consequently, this study describes the first application of a systematic process evaluation of a partnership during the formation stage. Evaluation is usually viewed by stakeholders as costly and time-consuming, and it often ends up being a "do-it-yourself" model. (11) This study is significant because it can help other practitioners and researchers involved in partnership and coalition development (especially partnerships still in the planning or formation stage) further appreciate the importance of process evaluation during all phases of partnership development, and will assist them in the planning and implementation of process evaluation. …

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