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Pediatric Outcomes Toolbox: Measures for Therapy Program Evaluation

presented by Robin Dole, PT, DPT, EdD, PCS

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Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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Standardized measures are used for a variety of purposes, including screening, prediction, determining difference (for diagnosis and eligibility), and detecting change over time. These examples of test purposes focus primarily on an individual child. Standardized measures can also be helpful in program evaluation. The use of outcome measures can also be used to assess the benefit of therapy programs, including impact of intervention on specific populations, cost-effectiveness, and client satisfaction. As information from program evaluation has become important to consumers, accreditors, researchers, and third-party payers, therapists should have the skills to participate in and interpret the findings from such program evaluations.

Meet Your Instructor

Robin Dole, PT, DPT, EdD, PCS

Robin L. Dole, PT, DPT, EdD, PCS, is a professor of physical therapy and prior director of the Institute for Physical Therapy at Widener University. She currently serves as dean of the School of Human Service Professions at Widener. Dr. Dole has been involved in pediatric practice for nearly 30 years, and as an academician…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Benefits and Challenges of Program Evaluation

Program evaluation is a process that is different from other ways in which therapists are typically involved in data collection, evaluation, and outcome measurement with individual patients and clients. Important information can be obtained from program evaluation that informs decisions regarding intervention programs for specific populations. This chapter will define important concepts, discuss the various challenges to program evaluation, and suggest strategies for successful implementation.

2. Getting Started with Program Evaluation

With any undertaking that takes time, energy, and resources, it is important to have a well-crafted plan and strategies to create buy-in for key stakeholders. To get started with a plan for program evaluation, the first step is identifying the outcome of interest. Is the focus related to a specific intervention or a specific population? Is it important to demonstrate cost-effectiveness or client satisfaction of services? Would it help to know if children with similar diagnoses and similar goals achieve those goals at the end of intervention, or how many therapy visits are needed to obtain a desired outcome? By beginning with the end in mind, a successful plan for program evaluation can be initiated.

3. Following the Steps

Following some key steps in planning and implementing a program evaluation is key to success. This chapter will review important steps to consider, including the following: identify the common diagnoses or populations served by the program, identify the program/clinic’s goals for outcomes, select meaningful measures to help determine effectiveness at meeting goals, create a culture to support program evaluation, identify the type(s) of data that can inform the process, create a systematic method for data collection and analysis, and use the outcome data for decision-making and benchmarking.

4. Examples from the Literature: A Focus on Interpretation and Application

The rehabilitation and pediatric literature provides examples and models that can be duplicated and adapted for use by hospitals, clinics, and schools in order to engage in successful program evaluation. This final chapter will use two to three case examples to illustrate the process of selecting appropriate tests and measures for program evaluation. Tips will be discussed for planning, data collection, interpretation, and applying the results by “closing the loop.”

5. Q&A Session

This Q&A session includes a pediatric physical therapist and discusses program evaluations.

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