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Estimating the Cost-Benefit of a Policy

Policy impact evaluation can have multiple aims or purposes, including: ƒ Demonstrating the impact of the policy, by measuring changes in shortterm, intermediate and long-term outcomes. ƒ Determining whether changes in outcomes can be attributed to the policy. ƒ Comparing relative impacts of policies with different components. ƒ Identifying the relative cost-benefit or cost-effectiveness of a policy. The focus of the evaluation may be a number of different areas, including the following: ƒ Short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes and impacts. ƒ Outcomes are short-term and intermediate changes in target audience behavior, awareness, attitudes, or knowledge. ƒ Impacts are long-term changes in indicators. ƒ Indicators are specific, observable, measurable characteristics of changes that demonstrate progress toward outcome or impact. ƒ Outcomes and impacts in comparison communities. ƒ Costs of implementing the policy. ƒ Cost savings resulting from policy implementation. Examples of outcome and impact indicators are presented in Figure 2. Brief 5: Evaluating Policy Impact Step by Step – Evaluating Violence and Injury Prevention Policies Policy Impact Evaluation: Did the Policy Produce the Intended Outcomes and Impacts? Policy impact evaluation examines changes in key indicators that have occurred since the implementation of a policy and the extent to which changes can be attributed to the policy. Policy impact evaluation’s relation to policy development phases is illustrated in Figure 1. 2 Step by Step – Evaluating Violence and Injury Prevention Policies Sample Impact Evaluation Questions Once the purpose and focus of the evaluation are determined, you should identify specific evaluation questions. The evaluation questions you choose will guide your selection of an appropriate evaluation design. The following are some sample policy impact evaluation questions. ƒ Was there a change in the outcomes and impacts of interest? ƒ Did the policy contribute to a change in the outcomes and impacts of interest? ƒ Were there any unintended consequences of the policy? ƒ Did contextual factors influence the level of impact? ƒ What was the economic impact of the policy (costeffectiveness or cost benefit)?