Perspectives on Evaluation Capacity for Infectious Disease Public Health Activities

Monday, June 23, 2014: 5:45 PM
Rhythm & Blues, Renaissance Hotel
Christina L. Chung , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Leah S. Fischer , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Alvin Shultz , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA

Brief Summary:
Program evaluation is a valuable tool in improving the way public health actions are conducted. However, evidence suggests that capacity to perform evaluation activities varies widely among public health organizations (especially in the realm of infectious diseases) and few appear to have adequate resources (e.g., trained and experienced staff) for conducting a full range of evaluation activities. For example, data from CSTE’s Epidemiology Capacity Assessments suggests that among epidemiologists working at state health departments, the ability to ensure and assist in evaluation of programs, as well as develop program logic models and theories of action, are low. In recent years however, the need to meet accountability requirements and demonstrate the value and effectiveness of public health activities has led to some improvement. Additionally, in response to this capacity gap, the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases (ELC), a program designed to assist state public health agencies identify, monitor, and respond to outbreaks, has spearheaded efforts to enhance evaluation capacity in the states. However, there is still considerable knowledge to be learned about the role of evaluation in epidemiology, including the perceived value and need of evaluation skills in infectious disease, the role of evaluation in infectious disease public health work, and how to expand evaluation capacity to better detect, respond and control infectious diseases, and to demonstrate the value of epidemiology activities in this field.