Evaluability assessments in public health

A Summary of

Leviton, L.C., Khan, L.K., Rog, D., Dawkins, N., & Cotton, D. (2010). Evaluability assessment to improve public health policies, programs, and practices. Annual Review of Public Health, 31:213–233.


This article provides readers with an understanding and history of evaluability assessments and how they can be helpful in the field of public health. It lists the benefits of conducting an evaluability assessment, including cost-effectiveness.

Evaluability assessments are completed before an evaluation and are designed to maximize the chances that a subsequent evaluation will result in useful information. They can also be called exploratory evaluations and are meant to identify programs that show promise or those that are unlikely to be effective in their current form. Evaluability assessments point the way to evaluations that have the best chance of revealing important information. They are able to do the following:

  • Shed light on disagreements among stakeholders.
  • Describe the logic of a program.
  • Indicate the need for adjustments in activities and resources.
  • Inform stakeholders about options for evaluation and their potential usefulness.
  • Reveal problems before decision makers commit to a formal evaluation.
Access the Method

Format of the Method







Using the Method

Time for Participation/Completion

More than 8 hours

An evaluability assessment should take no more than 1 to 3 months, unless there is high complexity and multiple sites for which the time can be increased.

Additional Resources and/or Skills Needed for Implementation

Not Specified

Steps for Using Method/Tool

Evaluability assessments are described as cyclical, iterative processes that build an understanding of the program design, the underlying program logic model or theory of change, and the opportunities for useful evaluation and potential program improvement. The steps to an evaluability assessment include the following:

  1. Involvement with potential evaluation users
  2. Review of program documents (including mission statements, goals and objectives)
  3. Conducting stakeholder interviews
  4. Creation of a logic model or theory of change
  5. Interviewing staff or clients
  6. Revision of logic model or theory of change
  7. Creation of a report on the program’s plausibility to achieve desired goals, areas for further program improvement, feasibility of conducting a full evaluation and options for evaluation design

The article provides a history of evaluability assessments followed by a description of how users can conduct an evaluability assessment. The paper goes on to describe logic models and theories of change, which are central to conducting an evaluability assessment. Two examples are provided that help readers understand evaluability assessments in practice.

This paper suggests that evaluability assessments can be beneficial for public health in five ways:

  1. Serving the core public health functions of planning and assurance
  2. Building evaluation capacity
  3. Navigating federal performance measurement requirement
  4. Translating evidence-based research models into practice
  5. Translating practice into research by identifying promising practices

Who is involved

Public health professionals who are interested in evaluation of programs, policies or practices will find this method useful.

Conditions for Use

© 2010 by Annual Reviews

Evaluation of the Method


Information not available


Not applicable


Not applicable

Methodological Rating

Not applicable

Development of the Method


Laura C. Leviton
Laura Kettel Khan
Debra Rog
Nicola Dawkins
David Cotton

Method of Development


Release Date


Contact Person/Source

Laura Leviton
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
New Jersey, USA 08543-2316
Email: llevito@rwjf.org

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.

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