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While the Department of Defense supports more than 200 psychological health and traumatic brain injury programs, it lacks an approach and process to systematically develop, track, and assess the performance of this portfolio of programs. Further, there is not yet a uniform approach to decisionmaking around program support and expansion of particularly promising, evidence-based programs. This lack of centralized oversight may result in the proliferation of untested programs that are developed without an evidence base; an inefficient use of resources; and added cost and administrative inefficiencies. RAND researchers developed a potential model and tools to support a centralized, systematic, and ongoing process to help in making decisions around continued program support, and by which expansion can be facilitated. This report includes two tools. The first is a Program Abstraction Form, which collects relevant background information from programs and asks explicitly about program effectiveness and the design of the program evaluation used to assess program effectiveness, as a poor evaluation design may lead to incorrect conclusions about the effectiveness of the program. The second is the RAND Program Expansion Tool, which provides a standardized summary of the quality and outcome of a program evaluation. The focus of these tools is on decisionmaking around program expansion, and does not preclude or address initial funding decisions of particularly promising new programs that may not yet have a solid evidence base.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Assessing Programs for Possible Expansion

  • Chapter Three

    Quality of Evaluation

  • Chapter Four

    Program Effectiveness

  • Chapter Five

    Population and Policy Priorities

  • Chapter Six

    Decisionmaking Regarding Program Expansion

  • Appendix A

    Program Abstraction Form

  • Appendix B

    The RAND Program Expansion Tool and Instruction Manual

  • Appendix C

    Instruction Manual for the RAND Program Assessment Tool

This research was sponsored by the the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. It was conducted in the Forces and Resources Policy Center, a RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI) program. NDRI is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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