Evaluating SANE Programs

Tomorrow, Dr. Rebecca Campbell will be in Seattle to talk about the impact of SANE programs on case prosecution. Evaluating program efficacy is a tricky issue. And while I encourage programs to define success in healthcare terms and not criminal justice terms (patient-centered, not prosecution-centered), there's certainly worth in considering how one discipline impacts another. I'm eagerly awaiting the publication of some of her latest research on the topic. Until then, you might want to check out her evaluation toolkit: Step-by-Step Practitioner Toolkit for Evaluating the Work of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Programs in the Criminal Justice System. The document is somewhere in the vicinity of 145 pages, so I'm not suggesting you sit down and devour the document in its entirety (at least not in one sitting). But if you've been wondering about whether your program is having the impact you think it does, or you're trying to determine how to define success for your program, you might find some helpful answers within its pages.

Dr. Campbell and her colleagues break the toolkit into 4 sections:

  1. The first section provides a basic overview of conducting program evaluation with SANE programs. This includes sample evaluation questions for assessing the different domains of SANE's work.
  2. The second section provides an introduction to the many ways SANE programscreate change in their communities, with a particular emphasis on the impact of SANEs on the processing of sexual assault cases through the criminal justice system.
  3. The third section is a step-by-step explanation of a specific type of evaluation your program can conduct: an evaluation of whether your SANE program has impacted the progression of sexual assault cases through the criminal justice system in your community.
  4. The last section illustrates how your evaluation work (discussed in the previous section) can translate into ideas for community action. If you did find a positive impact on case progression through the criminal justice system, the rest of the
    Toolkit will help you to understand what you are doing well that should be continued and made to last. If you didn't find a change, the rest of the Toolkit will help you understand what improvements can be made to change the criminal justice system response to sexual assault in your community.

Evaluation is an intimidating concept, but this toolkit is specifically written for SANEs (how often do I get to say that!), so it really speaks to our work and the realities of the role. You can also find the report that accompanies the toolkit on the NCJRS site (and the summary document here [PDF]).