Evaluation Institute for Public Health

The Evaluation Institute for Public Health seeks to advance evaluation science, scholarship, and practice through research, training, and consultation. By making evaluation science a core component of public health infrastructure we strive to improve the performance of public health and related human service organizations.

The Evaluation Institute serves three distinct constituencies:

  • public sector organizations at the county, state or federal level;
  • organizations that manage health care services such as hospitals, primary care centers or long-term care centers; and
  • community-based nonprofit organizations.

Primary Activities of the Evaluation Institute

Conduct Educational Programs

Institute staff offer educational programs via formal University courses; short-term institutes regionally, nationally, and internationally; independent study either in Pittsburgh or on site; and Web-based instruction. A 15-credit certificate in evaluation is available to graduate students and others who meet the admission requirements. We also offer the Evaluation Fellows Program. Every three years the Institute invites a director of human service organizations to study evaluation science. Fellows are expected to design and conduct an evaluation study within their organization. They often team with a public health doctoral student. The Fellows Program is designed to increase the use of scientific evaluation. Past fellows include John Zanaradelli, executive director (chief executive officer), Asbury Heights; and Joni Schwager, executive director, Staunton Farm Foundation.

Advance Evaluation Science

The Institute contributes to the further development of the theoretical framework and methods used in scientific evaluation studies. The Institute is particularly interested in the improvement of “mixed method” strategies for evaluation, the development of statistical designs and analytic tools, and the application of behavioral intervention theories for rigorous testing.

Apply Evaluation and Community Health Needs Assessment Methods

Institute staff use the most advanced scientific methods for the conduct of community health status assessments.

Develop and Test Methods for "Hard-to-Evaluate" Programs

Certain situations, such as large-scale disasters, and creative community interventions provide extremely difficult evaluation challenges. These “hard to evaluate” programs are important because they are so challenging that they are likely to lead to conceptual and methodological innovation. Such evaluations could lead to dramatic improvements in morbidity and mortality.

Develop Evaluation Capacity and Infrastructure

The Institute is committed to assist agencies to develop the infrastructure and capacity to design and conduct their own evaluation studies, including designing information systems, training staff in evaluation methods, identifying financial resources, and creating an organizational culture that values evaluation.

Develop and Apply Advanced Technologies

The conduct of scientific evaluation studies, and the process by which such studies are planned, is being strongly modified by advances in medical devices, telecommunications, and information system technologies.

Methodological Expertise

Our faculty and staff use the full range of evaluation design options including experimental, mixed methods, case study, and community- based participatory research. 

Survey Research: The Office of Health Survey Research, based in the Institute for Evaluation Science, is able to carry out all phases of a survey research project, including sample design, questionnaire design, data collection, data processing, statistical analysis, and reporting.

Community Needs Assessment: Institute staff apply a variety of methods to assess the health status, utilization patterns, barriers to obtaining health care, and unmet need for services of populations of interest.

Qualitative/Ethnographic Data Collection Analysis and Community-Based Participatory Research: These methods are employed in formative evaluation studies and as a basis for planning and implementing behavioral interventions. Also, qualitative methods are essential to understanding individual and community decision making about seeking preventive, emergency, and acute medical care.

Quality and Ethical Standards

Institute staff adhere to the American Evaluation Association’s Standards for the Conduct of Evaluation Studies. The standards describe guidelines for utility, feasibility, accuracy, and propriety in evaluation research.

Contact Us

For information about the certificate program:
Thistle Elias

For general questions or to contact one of our other faculty:
Jennifer King

Practicum Opportunities

View practicum opportunities with a wide range of organizations and programs. Specific contact information and details are included in current and past opportunities posted here. Contact Thistle Elias with questions about practicum expectations.

Current and Recently Completed Projects