Research and Development

We are dedicated to advancing the evaluation discipline through discovery and innovation.

In addition to practicing evaluation, The Evaluation Center also conducts research on evaluation-related topics.

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    NSF-Funded Research

    The National Science Foundation-funded project EvaluATE supports multiple research studies on evaluation efforts to understand evaluation practices within the ATE community and beyond.

    EvaluATE Research

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    NIH-Funded Research

    Funded by the National Institutes of Health, our Community Utilization of Evidence-Based Program Registers in Community Health project is examining the impact of evidence-based program registers on the effective dissemination and utilization of evidence-based programs and practices.

Recent Publications



    Purpose: Evidence-based program registers (EBPRs) are important tools for facilitating the use of evidence-based practices or programs (EBPs) by state statutory agencies responsible for behavioral healthcare, broadly defined as substance misuse, mental health, HIV/AIDS prevention, child welfare, and offender rehabilitation. There are currently no data on the purposes for which such state agencies reference EBPRs on their official websites.

    Method: A webscraping method was used to identify and classify relevant “hits”, defined as a state behavioral health webpage with single or multiple references to a study EBPR. A total of 778 hits (unique combinations of webpage and register) were coded. Up to three codes were applied to each hit for the “reasons for the EBPR reference” (EBPR use) dimension, one code was applied to each hit for the “purpose of the EBPR reference” and “intended audience of the webpage containing the hit” dimensions, and up to two codes were applied to each hit for the "funding mentions” dimension.

    Results: Three EBPRs out of 28 accounted for 73.6% of the hits. The most frequent reason for referencing EBPRs were as a resource for selecting EBPs or validating existing programs and practices. The references tended to appear in reports from the state, in training materials, or guidelines. The references tended to address broad groups of behavioral healthcare professionals. EBPRs were frequently referenced in the context of federal block grants or other federal funding.

    Conclusions: Increasing state agencies’ awareness and use of the entire range of existing EBPRs may improve implementation of EBPs nationally.

    Authors: Michael J. Maranda, Stephen Magura, Ryan Gugerty, Miranda J. Lee, John A. Landsverk, Jennifer Rolls-Reutz, Brandn Green



    Background: Between 1988 and 2013 the U.S. government conducted surveillance of national drug misuse use trends by collecting voluntary urine specimens from individuals under arrest in major counties. It was discontinued for financial reasons. The program was the only national survey that used a bioassay to measure drug use. Other national drug surveys continue to be based entirely on self-reports of drug use.

    Objective: Given the current opioid and incipient methamphetamine epidemics, this study aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of surveilling drugs subject to misuse among individuals under arrest using oral fluid collected anonymously by jail staff in one U.S. county. This method has never been previously employed with an offender population.

    Methods: The subjects were adults arrested for any reason and booked in one Midwest county jail in the U.S. between July 2019 – January 2020 (N = 196; 145 males). Oral fluid specimens were provided for research purposes voluntarily and anonymously.

    Results: 79% of individuals approached consented to participation. The most frequently detected drugs were cannabis (53%), methamphetamine (27%), cocaine (9%) and opioids (11%). Further, 74% tested positive for at least one drug; 36% tested positive for at least one illegal drug, 10% tested positive for at least one possibly illegal drug, and 54% tested positive for at least one legal drug (predominantly cannabis). (Tests for nicotine and ethanol were not included.)

    Conclusion: The feasibility of collecting oral fluid from individuals under arrest in a jail setting to measure the prevalence of drugs subject to misuse was demonstrated.

    Authors: Stephen Magura, Bridget E. Weller, Dawn R. Smith, Matthew M. Saxton & Piyadarsha Amaratunga