Evaluation of Supportive Relationships

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You can visit Evaluation on the navigation bar below for general information on evaluation. This section is designed to add to this general information by giving you special considerations for evaluating supportive relationship interventions.

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:

  • It is often difficult to establish causality. Some individuals might have reduced asthma symptoms on their own, because of a change in medication, or through relationships with others that were not part of the intervention. Therefore, it is important to get as much information as possible about the reason for the changes in asthma symptoms or health care utilization.
  • When the supportive relationships strategy is used along with other strategies (the most effective way to create change), it is difficult to figure out which intervention strategies led to the changes that were observed in the evaluation.

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:

  • What is the goal of sharing our work? What action do we want others to take?
  • Which group needs to take action right now? Which group is the primary audience at this moment?
  • What does this audience care about? What values do we share with this audience?
  • What is our message to this audience? What do they need to hear to take action?
  • What media outlets does our audience follow? Which newspapers do they read? Which radio stations do they listen to? Which TV newscasts do they watch?
  • Who are our opponents?
  • What is their message to our audience?

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