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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 3, 2010

Updates from the TB Program Evaluation Network

Update from the TB PEN Tools Team

The mission of the TB Program Evaluation Network (TB PEN) is to develop and strengthen the capacity of state and local TB programs to monitor and evaluate their programs and use findings to enhance the effectiveness of prevention and control activities.

TB PEN currently has five teams, allowing active members, voting members, and organizational members to focus on a specific area of interest. The five teams are Technical Assistance, Tools, Communications, Training, and Implementation.

The Technical Assistance Team has four objectives:

  1. Provide technical assistance to state and local programs and assist DTBE staff in implementing NTIP and evaluation activities.
  2. Develop and provide guidance pertaining to evaluation activities.
  3. Encourage quality assurance as part of the evaluation process.
  4. Establish guidance for developing evaluation reports that will facilitate appropriate and effective use of findings.

The Tools Team has three objectives:

  1. Maintain an active indicator library and make it easily accessible.
  2. Collect and review the repository of evaluation tools or instruments developed by the TB programs. 
  3. Foster the development and distribution of evaluation tools.

The Communications Team has four objectives:

  1. Enhance communication related to TB program evaluation at all levels.
  2. Conduct assessments to determine needs and current status of capacity to perform program evaluation.
  3. Describe expectations for TB program evaluation activities.
  4. Facilitate feedback between DTBE and programs related to program evaluation.

The Training Team has four objectives:

  1. Develop a training plan to increase monitoring and evaluation knowledge and skills at the national, state, and local level.
  2. Develop training sessions for program evaluation for use at the state and local levels; archive training webinars.
  3. Develop targeted training materials for program evaluation.
  4. Host annual joint training conference with TB ETN.

The Implementation Team (Evaluation Findings) has three objectives:

  1. Disseminate and share evaluation findings and tools reviewed.
  2. Assess evaluation findings and ensure use and implementation.
  3. Conduct a meta-evaluation of evaluation plans.

We hope you will consider joining one of our TB PEN teams. 

The Tools Team has been conducting monthly conference calls since the 2009 TB ETN/ TB PEN Conference. A lot of progress has been made in placing program evaluation tools, including cohort review tools, on the new Wiki website. Please read the next article to find out more about this exciting project.

The TB PEN Tools Team has a new website, and they need your help!

The TB PEN Tools Team was formed at the first annual TB PEN conference in July 2009 to build on the accomplishments of the Evaluation Working Group (EWG) Tools Teams (2004-2009).

As stated above, this team has three main objectives:

  1. Maintain an easily accessible indicator library.
  2. Collect and review evaluation tools developed by TB programs.
  3. Encourage development and distribution of evaluation tools.

To meet these objectives, the Tools Team developed an online site, where users can access and share program evaluation tools that have been successfully used to complete cooperative agreement program evaluation requirements.  This online site is a Wiki, which looks and functions just like a regular website but can be easily updated by the Tools Team.

Tools are grouped on the site according to the national TB program objectives.   Although anyone will be able to view the tools, TB PEN focal points from each state will have the ability to provide comments on their tools as well as other states’ tools. Tool modification will not be allowed on the website, but individuals will be able to download any tool to their own computer where they can modify it to fit their needs.

Still not sure how the online site works? Here is one example of how the Tools Team hopes it will be utilized:

TB Controller Jane works in a state with low TB incidence. She is developing a data collection survey for the national objective for “treatment completion,” and is looking for a tool that will describe factors contributing to the gap between the target performance on the indicator, “completed treatment within 12 months,” and the program’s actual performance. She would like a tool that uses qualitative analysis and does not require any training to use. Jane decides to visit the Tools Team’s online site for some ideas.

Visiting the online site
Jane visits the online site by simply opening her internet browser and typing in the website’s address On the website’s front page she sees a list of the national objectives.  She selects “treatment completion,” and a list of all the tools that have been submitted for this objective appears. The tools are divided by high-, medium-, and low-incidence areas, and are labeled by state/TB project area. Jane scrolls down to tools from low-incidence areas.  Each tool listed is characterized by the developer’s summary as follows:

  • Evaluation question(s) addressed
  • Number of times the developer used the tool
  • Developer’s plan to revise the tool, how it will be revised, and when
  • Primary diagnostic categories of patients targeted by the tool (i.e., active TB patient, high-risk LTBI, etc.)
  • Suggested analytic approach: qualitative or quantitative analysis
  • Suggested training requirements

Jane sees that TB Controller Joe from another low-incidence state has developed the type of tool she needs. She selects the tool and downloads it to her computer.  The tool, a spreadsheet, includes columns for most of the information she is hoping to collect, but is missing a few items. After making a few modifications, Jane has the tool she needs and quickly begins collecting and entering her data. A few months later, Jane begins analyzing her data and wonders how Joe did his analysis.  Jane returns to the online site and sees that Joe had agreed to answer questions about his tool and provided his e-mail address. Jane contacts Joe, who explains his methods of analysis for the tool. Jane is so happy with her modified tool that she sends it to the Tools Team to be posted online with her developer’s summary. She also puts several comments on the treatment completion page of the online site, explaining how and why she modified Joe’s tool for her area along with some suggestions for other states looking to collect similar data.

We hope this explanation helps you better understand how to utilize the online site for program evaluation tools. Now we need your help. In order for this site to be a success, we need more tools! When your TB program develops a tool, such as a logic model, a survey instrument, a template or procedures for tool analysis, or chart abstraction tool that helps you understand contributing factors for performance measures, please send it to the Tools Team for sharing with your TB colleagues.  If you do not have the letter and form the team sent out last April, please contact Nickolette Patrick.

Tools Submission Form Questions

  1. What is the primary NTIP focus area?  Other focus areas?
  2. What evaluation question(s) does this tool address?
  3. How many times has the tool been used?
  4. Are you planning to revise the tool, and if so do you know how it will be revised and when?
  5. Which category of patient is the primary target for the tool, i.e., active TB patient, high-risk LTBI, etc.?
  6. Does this tool require qualitative or quantitative analysis? 
  7. What training is needed to use the tool?
  8. If you are willing to answer questions about the tool, please include a contact name, telephone number, and e-mail address.

—Reported by Jill Fournier and Eileen Bosso
for the TB PEN Tools Team


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