Inside the Black Box of Interactions Between Programs and Participants: Re-conceptualizing Subgroups for Fatherhood Program Evaluation. C. Key Findings and Conclusions

10/12/2012

Service-user typology research illustrates the value of examining individual and family challenges, service needs, and attitudes/beliefs pertaining to the program-targeted outcomes, and the value of adopting clustering methods to identify relatively homogeneous subgroups reflecting distinct constellations of service needs, to identify subgroups of individuals that may warrant differential intervention strategies. Audience segmentation approaches to defining subgroups in public health research illustrates the potential value of examining psychosocial factors reflecting knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and norms when examining behavior change, and the value of adopting cluster-analytic methods to identify relatively homogeneous subgroups reflecting distinct lifestyles that may warrant differential intervention strategies.

In sum, research on service-user typologies and audience segmentation approaches to creating subgroups suggests that researchers evaluating fatherhood programs should:

·      Look beyond demographic characteristics. Research on service-user typologies and on audience segmentation in public-health intervention suggests the potential utility of variables reflecting fathers' past and current behavior, including service use, remaining service needs, and psychographics reflecting fathers' goals, lifestyles, beliefs about the importance, likelihood, and ability to change outcomes targeted by fatherhood programs.

·      Consider multiple variables. To more fully capture the needs, readiness, and circumstances of fathers enrolling in fatherhood programs, numerous variables may need to be considered to maximally distinguish fathers with distinct service needs or who are likely to respond differently to fatherhood programs.

·      Select a subgroup approach that reflects the underlying theory of the impacts of subgroups. An additive risk approach is appropriate if evaluators theorize that fatherhood program impacts may differ for fathers at higher versus lower levels of cumulative risk, whereas an interactive approach is appropriate if evaluators theorize that fatherhood program impacts may differ depending on the particular constellation of risk and protective factors experienced by fathers.

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