Create a Research-Informed Program

Outcome evaluations are necessary for a program to be considered an EBP

On NREPP, a program is labeled “evidence based” when there is rigorous research that looks at how successfully the program affects the outcomes it is designed to improve.

In short, 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 develop a research-informed program by using evidence from current research and current practice to build a successful program. 

There is a range of research or evidence that can be used when developing a new program or remodeling an existing program. Many types of evidence are critical to developing a strong, relevant program that fits the targeted population.

Research Findings:

  • Summaries of current research can help provide a foundation for your program. For instance, evidence suggests that reducing certain risk factors can lead to improved outcomes. As an example, reducing a youth’s exposure to violence can prevent changes in the body and brain that interfere with healthy development. If your program addresses such risk factors, it can be described as evidence informed.

Andrea Taylor aimed to improve early adolescents’ school attendance and self-esteem. She identified a protective factor—developing relationships with significant adults—as a basis for her mentoring program.



Best Practices or Similar Programs:

  • Programs similar to the one you envision may incorporate best practices. Look for programs that address mental health and substance use disorder issues in a registry, such as NREPP. These programs are good places to start because the quality of their evidence bases has been examined by experts.
  • Professional organizations are another valuable source of guidance and information. For example, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals publishes best practices for establishing and running drug courts.
  • SAMHSA offers evidence-based practice kits with information that can be invaluable when formulating your own program. For instance, the Interventions for Disruptive Behavior Disorders Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) kit has tools for developing mental health programs that help prevent or reduce severe aggressive behavioral, emotional, and developmental problems in children by enhancing the knowledge of parents, caregivers, and providers.

When Dr. Asarnow was developing an ER intervention for suicidal youth, she looked at a similar intervention with homeless youth, developed by her colleague Mary Jane Rotheram–Borus.



Tools and Resources Are Available to Support You While You Develop Your Program:

  • The University of Wisconsin, for example, has a module that will help you think through some critical components of program development.

Focus Groups and Stakeholder Interviews:

  • Other evidence can be gathered through focus groups and interviews. This research methodology provides information that is unique to the situation you face. Through these discussions, you can learn who will benefit from the change, who will benefit if the situation stays the same, the resources available in the agency or community, and who may be potential partners.
Last Updated: 09/14/2017