5.1 Who is your audience?If the evaluation is just for you and your team, you may need no more than a brief report which summarises what you’ve done and what you’ve learned.
If the evaluation is for a funding body, it may need to be more formally presented, with an explanation of what you were evaluating and what you discovered, and the implications for the service and the funder.
If your clients have been involved in the evaluation, it will be important to let people know what came out of the project. This can be achieved by a simple notice in the waiting room or, if the implications are significant, it might be worth sending out a letter to clients to let them know what resulted from the evaluation. You can return to the stakeholder identification activity and consider whether different stakeholders need different information.
Of course, as discussed in section 3.6, depending on the project there may be ethical considerations in how the information is presented, and there can be valid reasons for keeping evaluation results internal to the service, particularly if problems have been highlighted which need to be addressed.
Your evaluation may also be of interest to other similar services in your area, elsewhere in Australia, or even overseas. It may be helpful for others to learn about how your program operates and what it has achieved.
5.2 A report presentation formatIn general, the evaluation report should include:
- an overview of the program objective; the purpose of the evaluation and the evaluation methods used
- a summary of the key findings
- a description of the program, in sufficient detail to understand what has been evaluated
- discussion of implications for the population group and program, if appropriate
- recommendations or potential future directions
- acknowledgements of people who contributed to the evaluation.
5.3 Disseminating resultsThe dissemination of evaluation results will, again, largely depend upon the intended audience(s) and presentation styles; the budget for dissemination; the nature of the report content (i.e. confidential or public) and the role of the evaluation report in contributing to broader change processes. In general terms, printed reports are often costly, so consideration could be given to online publishing and/or targeted use of other media such as email communication to interested stakeholders, blogs or websites, or radio, as appropriate. The use of evaluation reports to inform further rounds of program planning may also determine the process for disseminating results. Evaluation results may also form a basis for ongoing public health campaigns.
The Victorian Department of Human Services guide: Planning for effective health promotion (Round et al 2005) suggests that it is important to think through a number of aspects of sharing the evaluation findings, such as who should have access to the results (taking into account the ethical requirement for privacy); the ideal formats for dissemination of results; and the storage of evaluation results in the agency to ensure future programs can build on the existing knowledge base.
The Public Health Agency of Canada describes practical processes which increase the likelihood of stakeholders using evaluation results, including the use of clear language and local presentations designed to ‘spread the word’ in a targeted way, presenting findings to local groups who might be interested, preparing a press or media release, and presenting at a workshop of other professionals to share what you have learned (Health Canada 2000).