ERIC Number: EJ694468
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Reference Count: 42
Is Sustainability Possible? A Review and Commentary on Empirical Studies of Program Sustainability
Scheirer, Mary Ann
American Journal of Evaluation, v26 n3 p320-347 2005
An important final step in the life cycles of programs and their evaluation involves assessing new programs' or innovations' sustainability. This review and synthesis of 19 empirical studies of the sustainability of American and Canadian health-related programs examines the extent of sustainability achieved and summarizes factors contributing to greater sustainability. Three definitions for measuring sustainability were examined: continued program activities (18 studies), continued measured benefits or outcomes for new clients (2 studies), and maintained community capacity (6 studies). Methods of studying sustainability were also assessed. In 14 of 17 studies covering the continuation of program activities, at least 60% of sites reported sustaining at least one program component. Although these studies' methods had substantial limitations, cross-study analysis showed consistent support for five important factors influencing the extent of sustainability: (a) A program can be modified over time, (b) a "champion" is present, (c) a program "fits" with its organization's mission and procedures, (d) benefits to staff members and/or clients are readily perceived, and (e) stakeholders in other organizations provide support.
Descriptors: Sustainable Development, Health Programs, Program Evaluation, Influences, Evaluation Methods, Measurement, Literature Reviews
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Publication Type: Information Analyses; Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada; United States