Evaluation module: CIHR resource

Bowen, S. (2012). A Guide to Evaluation in Health Research. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


This online module, developed for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, has been developed to support practitioners, managers and researchers in the evaluation of health and health research initiatives (including knowledge translation). A key aim of this module is to develop capacity to conduct evaluation to support evidence-informed action.

This module has been developed to support Knowledge Translation (KT), and is available along with other KT resources from CIHR.

Other objectives of the module are to:

  • Support development of evaluation plans appropriate for research funding proposals
  • Facilitate assessment of evaluation plans by peer and merit reviewers.

The learning module serves to:

  • provide an overview of the scope and potential of evaluation activities
  • define key concepts of evaluation
  • explore the relationship between evaluation and knowledge translation
  • provide guidance when selecting the purpose, approach and focus of an evaluation
  • guide key steps in evaluation planning and implementation

The module has five sections:

  • Section 1: Evaluation: A Brief Overview
  • Section 2: Getting Started (preliminary work)
  • Section 3: Designing an Evaluation (developing an evaluation plan)
  • Section 4: Special Issues in Evaluation (ethical, conceptual and logistical issues)
  • Section 5: Resources (glossary, checklist and evaluation templates)

Steps for Using Method/Tool

A number of resources are available in this online module, including:

  • Evaluation Checklist: questions to consider when developing and assessing an evaluation plan
  • Evaluation Planning Matrix (Appendix A)
  • Sample Evaluation Planning Matrix (Appendix B): a completed matrix for reference

The guide includes resources, examples and case studies. The evaluation steps outlined in the guide include:

  • Consider the purpose(s) of the evaluation
  • Identify intended users of the evaluation
  • Create a structure and process for collaboration on the evaluation
  • Assess evaluation capacity, build an evaluation team
  • Gather relevant evidence
  • Build a shared level of consensus about the evaluation
  • Describe the program/intervention
  • Confirm purpose, focus the evaluation
  • Identify and prioritize evaluation questions
  • Select methods and data sources
  • Clarify resources and responsibility areas
  • Implement evaluation activities
  • Communicate evaluation findings

These summaries are written by the NCCMT to condense and to provide an overview of the resources listed in the Registry of Methods and Tools and to give suggestions for their use in a public health context. For more information on individual methods and tools included in the review, please consult the authors/developers of the original resources.

We have provided the resources and links as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by McMaster University of any of the products, services or opinions of the external organizations, nor have the external organizations endorsed their resources and links as provided by McMaster University. McMaster University bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external sites.

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