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Evaluation in the Real World: Decision Points and Rationales in Creating A Rigorous Study Designed to Convey Ecologically Valid Findings

NCJ Number
American Journal of Community Psychology Volume: 67 Issue: 3-4 Dated: 2021 Pages: 447-455
Date Published
9 pages

Since rigorously evaluating community-based interventions for marginalized populations is fraught with challenges under the best of circumstances, this article describes the methodology chosen to evaluate an innovative model designed to help survivors of intimate partner violence obtain safe and stable housing.


The choice of evaluation design is justified from a community psychology perspective and the rationale is explained for the multi-method, multi-source design that also focuses on social context. It maximizes ecological validity and propels the scale-up of the intervention if it is found to be effective. Longitudinal data are being collected from program recipients over time, along with the advocates who worked with them, agency service records, and monthly documentation of agency resources on hand that can impact services provided. Special attention is given the capture of contextual information that can impact program success. Although randomized control trials are still too often heralded as “the gold standard” for measuring intervention effectiveness, this article maintains that the current design, which was developed in partnership with key community stakeholders, holds more promise when evaluating many community-based programs. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2021