NREPP defines evidence-based programs (EBPs) as
Interventions that have shown through program evaluation using accepted scientific methods that an observed effect is the consequence of the intervention.
EBPs are typically accompanied by manuals that prescribe the content delivered to participants for each session and the variations that may be allowed regarding program implementation.
- This definition makes clear that it is impossible to develop an evidence-based program because an evaluation must occur before the claim of “evidence-based” can be made.
- This definition does not require a “positive effect,” just an “observed effect.”
- This means that evidence-based programs on NREPP may be effective or “work.” But they may also make no impact or even make a negative impact on the target outcome.
All programs rated on NREPP are evidence-based. NREPP looks at evaluation studies to assess the quality of the evidence and the size of the program’s impact on an outcome. It then rates each outcome as “effective,” “promising,” or “ineffective.”
When the quality of the evidence is not sufficient to rate the outcomes, all outcomes receive a rating of “inconclusive.” Inconclusive programs are not considered evidence-based.
An outcome evaluation is required before a program can be considered an EBP. So, while you cannot consider your program an evidence-based program while it is under development, you can take steps to create a program that will have positive effects, that is valuable to the field, and that can be documented through evaluation.
These steps include