Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Views of the Program Implementers on the Project P.A.T.H.S. in Hong Kong

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Views of the Program Implementers on the Project P.A.T.H.S. in Hong Kong

Article excerpt

Introduction

Client satisfaction can be defined as "the extent to which services gratify the client's wants, wishes or desires for treatment" (1, p. 212). Despite the methodological problems of low response rate and positive response bias (2, 3), client satisfaction approach has been widely adopted in medical, business, education, and social work fields (4) for collecting direct feedback from service recipients. Studies were also conducted to identify factors or dimensions affecting client satisfaction. For instance, Barber, Tischler and Healy (5) found that respondents who reported having conduct problems were least satisfied with the mental health services they received. From a group of 761 students, Palmer and Holt (6) found that the ability to communicate confidently online and knowing clearly the marking criteria for getting good marks influenced students' perception of online learning; those items received least satisfaction were the basic features of online learning, such as "no need to learn face to face" or "interact with others online". Spiro et al. (3) investigated a group of runaway and homeless youths toward shelter services and revealed that quality of food, relationship with staff, and peer interactions significantly contributed to client satisfaction. All these studies helped researchers understand client satisfaction in different areas.

The client satisfaction approach can gain much popularity among different service settings because it has a number of strengths. First, clients can have a voice in the evaluation process which they can express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the services they have received (7). Second, the cost involved in conducting client satisfaction survey is comparatively lower than other evaluation methods such as clinical trials or qualitative evaluation studies. Third, client satisfaction surveys are easy to administer and do not require the use of advanced statistical analysis techniques (2, 8). Moreover, findings generated from client satisfaction survey provide information on critical factors for client satisfaction which can be used for program refinement (9). Furthermore, satisfaction is a key treatment outcome used in some of the services and client satisfaction survey is commonly regarded as a legitimate means to measure the service performance (10). Finally, with the supporting evidence of convergence between subjective outcome and objective outcome findings (11), results from client satisfaction surveys can be seen as an anchor for objective evaluation findings.

Although program participants are usually the targets of investigation in client satisfaction surveys, voices from program implementers have recently gained researchers' recognition. One example is the Project P.A.T.H.S. in Hong Kong. As Shek and Ma (12) highlighted, teachers and social workers usually had learned evaluation methods during their professional training and they knew the details of program implementation. Moreover, studies showed that helping professionals would be prone to burn out if they did not have job satisfaction (13) and the well-being of service providers had an impact on client satisfaction (14). Thus, to understand implementers' views toward the program can help to give them a sense of justice and provide them an opportunity to make their voice heard. In fact, understand the views of the program implementers is consistent with the general principle of evaluation that the views of different stakeholders should be taken into account in program evaluation.

To understand the program implementation quality is an important consideration in program evaluation. Measuring program fidelity is one of the ways to decide whether a program matches the original treatment expectation. Program fidelity can include dosage of service (length, intensity, and duration of the service), implementation procedure of the service, and staff qualities (15). A number of studies have used program implementers as informants to assess the relationship between program fidelity and program effectiveness. …

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