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Evaluation

Formal evaluation of a lactation support program (LSP) is an ongoing activity that is needed to ensure the continued success of the LSP and to identify areas for improvement. Stakeholder input is important in this phase as it can help identify the types of information valued by the users and supporters of your project. Consider evaluating each component of the LSP as well as the project as a whole.

Overall Evaluation

Over time, you would hope to see the proportion of new mothers in your workplace who breastfeed increase, and the length of time which they breastfeed also increase. If you collect this data from health risk appraisals, or organizational health survey, you can plot changes over time.

For federal work sites (and possibly state), remember to consider Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issues as appropriate at your agency, especially if you are planning any kind of survey or formal data gathering from your employees. Also if your LSP is part of a research study, you will need to determine what types of Institutional Review Board (IRB) approvals are needed. Each organization should work with its own internal and legal staff to develop appropriate guidelines and procedures for gathering employee input.

Conducting the Policy Evaluation

Evaluating the effect of a policy can provide valuable information about how well the policy was communicated and suggestions for future policy revisions or development. Here are some things to consider:

  • Track the distribution of the policy. How was it communicated? If you have policies listed on your Intranet sites, track the number of hits on that page.
  • Track questions or feedback about the policy. It might be valuable to be able to tell your management that "X" number of women have expressed appreciation for the program.

Evaluating the Breastfeeding Support Services

photo of a sign-in sheetEvaluating these services is similar to evaluating any other health education program at the work site, with the exception that it is reasonable that participants will be cycling in and out of the program. Some ideas to consider are—

  • Track numbers of employees who attend classes and sign up for more information.
  • Track number of pumps lent out or pump kits distributed, if applicable.
  • Track number of IBCLC consultations, if that is a benefit your work site offers.
  • Track number of members of breastfeeding discussion/support groups, if developed. It might also be worthwhile to track qualitative changes in the group discussion (if it can be done maintaining confidentiality) to see how discussions of workplace issues change over time.
  • Track Return-to-Work consultations. If you or your department doesn't provide these consultations, you might consider auditing what is covered, to make sure it reflects up-to-date information about your workplace's program.

Measuring Lactation Room Use

Since this can be the most challenging part of developing a comprehensive program, it is very important to track use of the lactation rooms. Because of the "closed door" nature of these rooms, it can appear to those outside the program that the room isn't being used, and could possibly be put to a better use some other way.

  • Track number of uses of the room. One way to do this is to have a counter on the door. Otherwise, you could put a simple sign-in sheet in the room and counsel the women who use the room to record each use that way. To assist with compliance, be sure you explain to employees why this information is needed.
  • Track supplies used for the room. This might also give you an idea of room use.

Next Steps

After you have conducted the initial evaluation of your LSP, consider periodic evaluations to ensure its ongoing success and identify potential areas for improvement.

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