Evaluation of Selected Aspects of the National Medicare Education Program: Final Design Report. Measurement Issues

01/10/2008

Prior to designing the evaluation options, we considered which ou tcome measures to focus on and how to define a successful outcome. We also identified and prioritized specific NMEP activities for evaluation. We discuss each of these issues in this chapter within the broader rubric of measurement.

When evaluating health -related education campaigns such as the NMEP, we recommend reviewing the social marketing literature to assess the degree to which key principles of social marketing and communications have been considered in campaign development and implementation, and how they can guide the evaluation design and actual evaluation. A key criterion for determining whether a campaign has been successful is if it has met its goals (Kotler et al., 2002Kotler et al., 2002). Thus, campaign goals must be clearly articulated and widely disseminated; the goals need to be measurable, recognizing, however, that they may change over time as the campaign matures. Another important social marketing principle to consider in designing and evaluating campaigns is whether an audience-centered approach has been followed (Andreason, 1995Andreason, 1995). Consumers, including Medicare beneficiaries and related stakeholders in this case, should be included in the campaign development and evaluation process to determine whether the information meets their needs and is user-friendly.

It is also important to recognize that Medicare beneficiaries and stakeholders are heterogeneous. Therefore, segmenting the campaign’s audience into smaller, more homogeneous market segments can help gain an understanding of perceptions and information needs. An overarching question focus of an education program or campaign is whether it had the intended impact in promoting behavior change. In health promotion campaigns, behavior change may be measured by eating better or exercising, but in a campaign to educate people about the Medicare program, we argue that the behavior is whether people are making informed decisions. However, we recognize that defining and measuring that concept in the context of Medicare and insurance-related decisions can be challenging.

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