Professional Competence in Program Evaluation

Evaluation has been identified for over 60 years as an integral component of public health, clinical care, school health, worksite, and community health programs by standard-setting organizations such as the WHO, the American Public Health Association (APHA), the European Union (EU), and the US Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH). Academic programs and professional leaders in health education throughout the world have typically defined evaluation competency as an essential skill of MPH-MSPH-MS trained public health professionals. In 1988 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) created the Committee for the Study of the Future of Public Health. Representatives from the federal government, national health and medical professional organizations, public health agencies, and nonprofit public health groups defined three core functions of public health. Each, as noted in Table 1.1, has a global application and an application to program evaluation.

The IOM also noted that these three broad categories of functions require specific planning and evaluation competencies in 10 areas:

  • • Assessment and investigation of health risks, problems, and health and safety hazards in the nation, province or state, and community;
  • • Enforcement of laws and regulations to protect and promote health, prevent disease, and ensure and improve safety;
  • • Public education and empowerment of people about health risks and solutions;
  • • Mobilization of community partnerships to plan solutions to health problems;
  • • Development of health policies, programs, and plans to support individual and community health efforts;
  • • Linking people to public health and primary care programs and services;
  • • Assuring a competent public health and personal healthcare workforce;
  • • Evaluating the availability, accessibility, quality, cost, and effectiveness of personal, primary care, and population health programs in providing services; and

table i.i Core Functions of Public (Population) Health





Regularly and systematically collect, synthesize, analyze, and make available epidemiologic information on the community, including statistics on health status, health-related behavior risks, community health needs, and needed studies of health problems.


Develop comprehensive health policies based on epidemiological


and behavioral assessments and the application of the current science, knowledge, and practice base.


Assure that basic services are provided to achieve defined health objectives.

• Conducting research and program evaluations to monitor progress and to provide new scientific evidence and solutions to population health problems.

Curricula in accredited MPH programs or schools of public health throughout the world should be providing graduate academic courses and mentored field experiences designed to develop competencies in all 10 areas, especially “program evaluation.” Currently, with the exception of many graduate programs in health education-health promotion, MPH programs in public health in the United States do not require a core course in “Evaluation of HP-DP Programs.”

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