Evaluation of Supportive Relationships
For interventions to increase social support related to asthma care, your goals and objectives can be used to help guide your evaluation strategies. In order to assess the impact of your activities, it is important to develop intermediate outcomes (e.g., changes in knowledge about asthma, self-efficacy) [social learning theory] as well as long-term outcomes you will assess (e.g., reduction in asthma symptoms). It is important to develop these intended outcomes and related evaluation questions with input from all partners including funding agencies.
As with all interventions it is useful to consider process, impact and outcome evaluation. Process evaluation enables you to assess if your program is being implemented as intended. You might consider collecting registration and attendance forms to determine who is, and is not, taking part in programs. This information can also provide information on how frequently individuals are participating. It is also useful to collect information on how satisfied individuals are with the various program activities and materials. With some support interventions (for example using supportive relationships to advocate for improved housing conditions), it is also useful to assess the process used to develop and plan the various activities. This may include an assessment of the coalition processes (e.g., decision making, conflict management) and well as specific logistics (e.g., time of meeting, adequate day care, location of meeting).
Impact evaluation enables you to determine if you are achieving your intermediate objectives. You might consider collecting information through the use of standardized surveys either face-to-face conducted at the program site, in individuals’ homes, or over the phone. These surveys may collect information on asthma symptoms or health care utilization. In addition, surveys should include items to assess exposure to interventions, utilization of materials and levels of the various types of social support thought to impact asthma care (informational, tangible, or emotional/appraisal). It might also be useful to consider alternative ways of tracking behavior, for example, self-report, biological makers, and non-obtrusive measures (e.g., household cleanliness). The choices you make about which ways to track behavior will depend on a number of factors including: resources, time, personnel available, appropriateness of measure for setting. In working to increase supportive relationships it is also important to assess the extent to which the types of support received are the types of support desired the participant desires from that particular individual or setting.
There are several challenges in evaluating supportive relationships interventions that should be considered:
Sharing Your Work
The following questions haven been provided to help guide the discussion you have with your partners about sharing your work with others: