As you start to plan your evaluation, make time to ask yourselves some simple questions.
- What’s the purpose of this program? (e.g. to provide comprehensive breastfeeding education and support to mothers, as part of an integrated child and family health service)
- What are its objectives or intended outcomes? (e.g. to provide consistent evidence-based advice, support and clinical services to mothers and their families to encourage the continuation of breastfeeding)
- What processes are being used to try and achieve those outcomes? (e.g. drop-in centres, individual appointments with lactation consultants, midwife home visits)
- What evidence base underpins the program? (e.g. that it is worthwhile attempting to improve breastfeeding practices and rates because these have been demonstrated to have ongoing population health benefits)
- What values underpin this program and are the values consistent with the program objectives? (e.g. universal access, and/or targeted service to meet the needs of priority groups; see underlying principles on page 1 of the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy 2010-2015 for more examples)
- Why is an evaluation being undertaken, what is being evaluated and how will the information be used?
- Who will be involved in the evaluation? (e.g. who will conduct it, what will be evaluated and who will find the results of interest?)
- Are there ethical issues to address in the evaluation?