Research Methods and Activities

Mixed Methods Research/Evaluation Design

Because of the nature of many health evaluations, several projects have used a variety of mixed methods approaches (e.g., exploratory and explanatory sequential and multi-phased), purposively bringing together quantitative and qualitative data and data from various sources collected to evaluate specific aspects of the program.

Survey Research

CHCPR houses extensive expertise in survey research methods including instrument development, sampling design, survey administration, and statistical analysis. We have experience with new modes of survey administration including web and mobile device based implementation. Over time, members of CHCPR have contracted with many different survey research organizations (RTI, SSRI, Weststat and Penn State’s own Survey Research Organization), and established data use agreements to make use of valued data collection instruments, such as the Patient Activation Measure (PAM), and access many sources of secondary data including the Dartmouth Atlas.

Quantitative and Causal Analysis

Most evaluations involve some level of analysis of secondary, observational, or health care claims and records data. CHCPR has a staff of analysts who are expert in working with such data and that understand the strengths and limitations, as well as HIPAA and other data security requirements. Our analysts are proficient in SAS and STATA as well as the use of other statistical software packages.

Qualitative Research

CHCPR faculty and staff have extensive experience in qualitative data collection and analysis. The team is comprised of individuals with training in qualitative protocol development, interview and focus group administration, qualitative coding, and various methods of systematic qualitative analysis. CHCPR also has established contracts with multiple transcription agencies, and expertise in the use of qualitative analysis software such as Atlas ti. CHCPR has conducted over 1000 qualitative interviews in person and by phone with various stakeholders, has developed codebooks and coded most of these data, and has conducted team based qualitative analysis contributing to a variety of published studies.

Documentation Collection and Tracking Data

Most health services research evaluations require a critical understanding of the importance of context, particularly at the local market and community levels. This includes an in depth knowledge of the composition and structure of the health care delivery system in a community, the configuration of state level policy, and an appreciation for the culture and history of local communities, including important social and environmental influences on population health. CHCPR staff are accustomed to collecting this information at baseline and tracking important contextual information, as well as details of program implementation activities, in an effort to characterize the nature, scope and ‘dose’ of the intervention related to specific health programs.

Participatory Research

Current and previous work conducted by the CHCPR team has often involved direct and frequent communication with evaluation stakeholders, and participation in various research areas including reviewing findings to ensure validity, participating in qualitative data collection efforts (site visits, phone interview, etc.), logic model development, and user feedback on research products prior to dissemination. While never sacrificing scientific integrity, we pride ourselves in knowing that individuals employed at many of the organizations and entities that we study often seek out our analysis products and/or request specific information, such as presentations of study findings to their boards or constituent groups. Many of our new evaluation projects result from references from those that have worked with us previously.

Enhancing the Visibility and Impact of Research Findings

Dissemination and utilization of research findings is a core focus area that we work to incorporate into each research project and evaluation we are involved in. We recognize that the successful dissemination of evaluation findings requires an understanding of the needs and interests of various audiences, and a coordinated execution of multiple communication strategies. In order to appropriately disseminate and promote the use of evaluation findings we specialize in:

  • Engaging evaluation stakeholders in a collaborative process to develop methods of presenting results that are meaningful and useful to various audiences,
  • Creating a continuous flow of information, including themes, findings and lessons from the evaluation through multiple channels (i.e., social media, conference or meeting presentations, survey reports, research briefs, webinars, etc.) and to multiple audiences, and
  • Assessing the awareness and use of evaluation findings to adapt, improve, and tailor dissemination strategies to specific audiences over time.