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The Practice of Health Program Evaluation

The Practice of Health Program Evaluation

Second Edition

October 2015 | 352 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Reflecting the latest developments in the field, the Second Edition provides readers with effective methods for evaluating health programs, policies, and health care systems, offering expert guidance for collaborating with stakeholders involved in the process. Author David Grembowski explores evaluation as a three-act play: Act I shows evaluators how to work with decision makers and other groups to identify the questions they want answered; Act II covers selecting appropriate evaluation designs and methods to answer the questions and reveal insights about the program’s impacts, cost-effectiveness, and implementation; and Act III discusses making use of the findings. Packed with relevant examples and detailed explanations, the book offers a step-by-step approach that fully prepares readers to apply research methods in the practice of health program evaluation. 

To view a sample syllabus, please click here.

1. Health Program Evaluation: Is It Worth It?
Growth of Health Program Evaluation

Types of Health Program Evaluation


List of Terms

Study Questions

2. The Evaluation Process as a Three-Act Play
Evaluation as a Three-Act Play

Role of the Evaluator

Evaluation in a Cultural Context

Ethical Issues

Evaluation Standards


List of Terms

Study Questions

Act I: Asking the Question
3. Developing Evaluation Questions
Step 1: Specify Program Theory

Step 2: Specify Program Objectives

Step 3: Translate Program Theory and Objectives Into Evaluation Questions

Step 4: Select Key Questions

Assessment of Fit


List of Terms

Study Questions

Act II: Answering the Question; Scene 1: Developing the Evaluation Design to Answer the Questions
4. Evaluation of Program Impacts
Quasi-Experimental Study Designs

Counterfactuals and Experimental Study Designs

Statistical Threats to Validity

Generalizability of Impact Evaluation Results

Evaluation of Impact Designs and Meta-Analysis


List of Terms

Study Questions

5. Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness Analysis: An Aid to Decision Making

Comparing Program Costs and Effects: The Cost-Effectiveness Ratio

Types of Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

Steps in Conducting a Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

Evaluation of Program Effects and Costs


List of Terms

Study Questions

6. Evaluation of Program Implementation
Types of Evaluation Designs for Answering Implementation Questions

Types of Implementation Questions and Designs for Answering Them


List of Terms

Study Questions

Act II: Answering the Question; Scenes 2 and 3: Developing the Methods to Carry Out the Design and Conducting the Evaluation
7. Population and Sampling
Step 1: Identify the Target Populations of the Evaluation

Step 2: Identify the Eligible Members of Each Target Population

Step 3: Decide Whether Probability of Nonprobability Sampling is Necessary

Step 4: Choose a Nonprobability Sampling Design for Answering an Evaluation Question

Step 5: Choose a Probability Sampling Design Answering an Evaluation Question

Step 6: Determine Minimum Sample Size Requirements

Step 7: Select the Sample


List of Terms

Study Questions

8. Measurement and Data Collection
Measurement and Data Collection in Quantitative Evaluations

Data Collection in Qualitative Evaluations

Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Evaluations

Management of Data Collection



List of Terms

Study Questions

9. Data Analysis

Getting Started: What's the Question?

Qualitative Data Analysis

Quantitative Data Analysis


List of Terms

Study Questions

Act III: Using the Answers in Decision Making
10. Disseminating the Answers to Evaluation Questions
Scene 1: Translating Evaluation Answers Back Into Policy Language

Scene 2: Developing a Dissemination Plan for Evaluation Answers

Scene 3: Using the Answers in Decision Making and the Policy Cycle

How Answers Are Used by Decision Makers


List of Terms

Study Questions

11. Epilogue

“I’ve used this textbook with public health graduate students for years, and both the students and I appreciate the practical, organized, accessible approach. . . . [The] Second Edition reflects important developments in the evaluation field . . . [and] is a book that students will want to keep on their bookshelves long after graduating, and will find themselves consulting over the course of their careers.”

Amanda S. Birnbaum
Montclair State University

“This text identifies the key areas facing today’s public health researchers, practitioners, and students.”

Leah Christina Neubauer
DePaul University

Praise for the Previous Edition

“A well-organized and readable text on evaluating health programs. It covers the essentials of choosing an evaluation design, planning and conducting the evaluation, and using the results of the evaluation."

Ronald Andersen
University of California, Los Angeles

"I found many instances where I thought students would get key concepts and ideas more quickly than they would from other texts. I was thrilled to see a discussion of ethics and culture in the text. The author provides clear explanations of important concepts and uses examples throughout the text." 

Robin Lin Miller
University of Illinois at Chicago

Still considering this text.

Dr Julie Baldwin
Interdiscipline , Missouri State Univ
November 13, 2015
Key features


  • A stronger emphasis on program theory encourages readers to establish a strong theoretical base to increase the effectiveness of health programs.
  • Updated and increased coverage of causal inference in impact evaluations addresses important new models by key scholars and makes the material more relevant for readers.
  • New content on conducting evaluations of program implementation using mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) has been added to Chapter 6.
  • Chapter 2 now includes guidance on conducting a stakeholder analysis, allowing evaluators to keep this group involved and top-of-mind throughout the evaluation process.
  • New “Rules of Thumb” offer simple, practical guidance on carrying out successful evaluations in the field to keep readers focused and on task.
  • Revised descriptions of quantitative analyses for causal inference (propensity scores and instrumental variables) and mediation analysis have been added to Chapter 9, allowing evaluators a means to correcting bias.


  • A walk-through of the sequential steps of carrying out the evaluation and disseminating its findings provides valuable guidance for first-time evaluators. 
  • Coverage includes not only what to do, but also how to do it, making the book practical and setting the book apart from other books in the field.
  • Rigorous, cutting-edge methods for conducting impact and process evaluations reflect the latest developments in the field to keep readers up to date.
  • A unique Chapter 4 on impact evaluation pulls together and integrates current approaches to causal inference in one chapter.
  • Methods for evaluating health programs are included, such as public health programs to reduce smoking, adopt a healthy diet, increase exercise, and prevent falls in older adults, along with health system interventions in medical care or public health agencies, to addresses issues known today.
  • An extensive list of references provides a gateway to the literature on the evaluation of health programs and health systems for more exploration opportunities.

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

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