Purpose: Community-based rehabilitation (CBR) must prove that it is making a significant difference for people with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries. Yet, evaluation is not a common practice and the evidence for its effectiveness is fragmented and largely insufficient. The objective of this article was to review the literature on best practices in program evaluation in CBR in relation to the evaluative process, the frameworks, and the methods of data collection.
Method: A systematic search was conducted on five rehabilitation databases and the World Health Organization website with keywords associated with CBR and program evaluation. Two independent researchers selected the articles.
Results: Twenty-two documents were included. The results suggest that (1) the evaluative process needs to be conducted in close collaboration with the local community, including people with disabilities, and to be followed by sharing the findings and taking actions, (2) many frameworks have been proposed to evaluate CBR but no agreement has been reached, and (3) qualitative methodologies have dominated the scene in CBR so far, but their combination with quantitative methods has a lot of potential to better capture the effectiveness of this strategy.
Conclusions: In order to facilitate and improve evaluations in CBR, there is an urgent need to agree on a common framework, such as the CBR matrix, and to develop best practice guidelines based on the literature available and consensus among a group of experts. These will need to demonstrate a good balance between community development and standards for effective evaluations.
Implications for Rehabilitation:
- In the quest for evidence of the effectiveness of community-based rehabilitation (CBR), a shared program evaluation framework would better enable the combination of findings from different studies.
- The evaluation of CBR programs should always include sharing findings and taking action for the sake of the local community.
- Although qualitative methodologies have dominated the scene in CBR and remain highly relevant, there is also a call for the inclusion of quantitative indicators in order to capture the progress made by people participating in CBR programs.
- The production of best practice guidelines for evaluation in CBR could foster accountable and empowering program evaluations that are congruent with the principles at the heart of CBR and the standards for effective evaluations.