Cheap and Cheerful Collection
By now, you are probably wondering how you are going to afford the time and money, as well as the required expertise, to design/establish your own evidence-gathering approach. Doing a completely tailored evaluation does take a great deal of planning and resources. However, sound information can be collected simply and by using existing tools. There are many great options for gathering evidence on peer support programs, which have already been developed by other organisations, available for your use. Some could be used ‘off the rack’ while others may need a little shaping to ensure you secure the information you need. It all depends on what you are trying to measure, and what is most appropriate for your own program.
One example that can be adapted for your use is a Member survey developed by Families4Families that links in with essential ILC Outcome objectives relevant to their specific peer program.
In addition, this survey was adapted for use at peer support group meetings, where the facilitator could ask the key questions of the whole group and note responses on the form. This can also be adapted for your use if this is relevant to your objectives and your specific peer program.
The Peer Connect website was collaboratively developed during the NDIA’s DSO project and led by JFA Purple Orange, who was the DSO Project Lead Agency (see https://www.peerconnect.org.au). The site is full of helpful quick guides, including one, specifically aimed at gathering evidence from peer group members (see https://www.peerconnect.org.au/setting-and-running-peer-networks/maintaining-network/how-was-it-you-evaluation-form-peer-meetings/, and https://www.peerconnect.org.au/setting-and-running-peer-networks/background/peer-networks-what-they-are-and-how-they-can-help/
Many peer organisations have shared their tools for use by other like-minded peer organisations and these are available here:
- JFA Purple Orange (2015). Disability Support Organisation Capacity Building Project: Evaluation Documents. This document includes a Peer Support Network Facilitators Guide to Evaluation, and Guide to data collection and storage. This framework was used for the first two years of the DSO project.
- Families4Families (2016). DSO Evaluation Plan. Explains the evaluation framework that Families4Families co-designed based on the 'DSO Facilitators Guide to Evaluation' from JFA.
- Physical Disability Council of NSW. Peer Connect Quickguide: How was it for you - An evaluation form for peer meetings. A quick guide to developing evaluation tools for a peer support network, including sample questions.
- Patton (2018). A guide for evaluating principles. Summary of the GUIDE approach to principles based evaluation: guiding, useful, inspiring, developmental, evaluable.
- Example survey tools. Includes sample forms and questionnaires from Team Up and DDA used by these peer organisations during their training sessions for evaluation purposes:
The Chronic Illness Alliance offers a free course online for peer leaders (see http://www.peerleadersonlinetraining.net/). This is designed to be used as a resource to help build the capacity of an existing one. The site also includes other training courses, as well as, a range of resources including a peer support evaluation tool. They also offer an excellent peer group handbook including a good summary of evaluations (see http://www.chronicillness.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Best-Practice-Framework-Web.pdf in section 6).
The ‘Youth Worker Evaluation Ideas 2015’ resource provides simple and easy ideas for undertaking evaluation with young people. It provides adaptable templates for qualitative evaluation along with engaging participatory activities. You can easily download the Youth Worker Evaluation Ideas 2015 from: https://siren.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Youth-Worker-Evaluation-Ideas_Jun2015.pdf and adapt the items for your use as needed.
Internationally there are also a huge range of resources available. For example, the Peers for Progress site (see http://peersforprogress.org/take-action/evaluate-peer-support/#find) list a range of resources available online. These include not only example tools but also overall evaluation plans (or ‘protocols’):
- The Peer Education Evaluation and Resources Center (PEER Center）is a national resource and evaluation center for people living with HIV and organization interested in PEER education training programs. Its section on Resources for Peer Programs has evaluation instruments.
- Peer Outcomes Protocol Project’s administration manual was developed as a way to evaluate community-based, mental health peer support programs. Each module in the manual describes how to conduct interviews, use questionnaires, and analyse the data collected in order to better focus on improving quality of life and peer supports for people with psychiatric disabilities
- The National Diabetes Program Evaluation Framework describes how to design an evaluation of a multifaceted public health education program. This framework has helped program planners and evaluators develop measurable short-term and long-term outcomes.
- This 2006 article from Prevention Chronic Disease describes methods and approaches to program evaluation.
- Section K: Program Evaluation (pg. 57) of the Mentoring Partnership Program Manual describes how to develop a plan for program evaluation.
- Annex 2 and Annex 3 of this peer mentor training manual include example pre- and post-training tests to rate the quality of the training and also peer educator and trainer evaluation forms.
- Appendix 1 (pg. 176) of this peer supporter training manual includes a checklist for observers evaluating peer supporters in training.
- The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Diabetes Initiative provides resources on project participant assessment, pre-test and post-test questionnaires and other program evaluation tools
- The University of Kansas Community Tool Box provides a number of evaluation resources including Evaluating Community Programs and Initiatives, Developing Training Programs for Volunteers and Evaluating the Trainees, and a Trainee Evaluation Form and Checklist.
- The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Evaluation Working Group provides a host of descriptive information and practical tools for a program evaluation framework.
In addition, there are a range of tools provided on the MyPeerToolkit site (http://mypeer.org.au/tools/) which are for use when evaluating peer programs delivered in a camp setting to children. Yet many of the tools could be easily adapted for use within peer organisations, and are easily accessed via a range of sub-headings including: tools for external use, participant evaluation, participant use and for staff/volunteer use. The site also conveniently lists tools that they know about but have not themselves developed, and this is another good resource to start with (see http://mypeer.org.au/participant-use/other-program-evaluation-tools/).
The World Health Organisation has also published a large number of workbooks that were developed to assist with the assessment of substance abuse treatment programs of which many utilise peer support techniques. The range includes an introductory ‘Framework Workbook’ but then includes workbooks on planning evaluations and implementing evaluations followed by a series of specialised workbooks (see the Planning Workbook here: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/66584/WHO_MSD_MSB_00.2b.pdf;jsessionid=5B43605EF50AA58BEB5AD85F1A92996D?sequence=2). These workbooks provide excellent self-help questions and case studies providing a strong knowledge base for those learning these skills.
Capsule: Utilising the work of your peer organisations is a useful technique to avoid a large investment in unique tools. Just be sure you adapt them as required for your use, and recognise the original source.