Lessons from a Project to Create Performance Measures for Public Health

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.), Female, Financing, Government, Humans, Maine, Male, Outcome and Process Assessment (Health Care), Program Development, Program Evaluation, Public Health, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, United States

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Evaluation and Program Planning


This paper uses a specific example to illustrate complications that arise in formulating and implementing performance measures. The context of this demonstration is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-funded project to explore the feasibility of performance measures developed at the national level for local sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention and control programs. Grantees provided local data and reported on their experience in eliciting the data and using the results for program development. The experience of this project suggests that measures can be made operationally feasible and programmatically useful only if terminologies are subjected to extensive definition and clarification activities. These activities must include development of common language, mapping of workflows, and clarification of spheres of influence. Finally, performance measures must be used with some caution, as they often unintentionally capture extraneous program elements.

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