Monitoring and Evaluating
Benjamin H. Gottlieb, Larry W. Thompson, and Michelle Bourgeois
The purpose of this chapter is to present ideas about appropriate measures for evaluating the process and outcomes of various kinds of interventions offered to family caregivers of older adults. Outcome evaluation is needed to inform service planners and policy makers who are responsible for developing new institutional programs. It is also needed by the practitioners involved in implementing specific strategies in their therapy modalities, and by clinical researchers attempting to develop more effective interventions or evaluate specific theoretical models that explain various mechanisms of change implicated in the caregiving process. Understandably, professionals coming from different perspectives will want to focus on the outcomes of family caregiving that are most relevant to their own interests and responsibilities. For example, policy makers would be impressed with information about whether the intervention delays institutionalization of the care recipient and whether it helps or hinders the delivery of other community services. Practitioners would be more concerned with whether or not particular caregivers (and possibly their family as well) benefited from the intervention program in which they participated and whether they will continue to use the program as needed in the future. For clinical researchers the endpoints that traditionally seem to matter the most focus on the caregivers' mental health status, such as their levels of depression, anxiety, and anger, or other measures of adjustment and function that are conventionally employed in clinical outcome studies.