Using qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate small-scale disease management pilot programs

Popul Health Manag. 2009 Feb;12(1):3-15. doi: 10.1089/pop.2008.0037.


Interest in disease management programs continues to grow as managed care plans, the federal and state governments, and other organizations consider such efforts as a means to improve health care quality and reduce costs. These efforts vary in size, scope, and target population. While large-scale programs provide the means to measure impacts, evaluation of smaller interventions remains valuable as they often represent the early planning stages of larger initiatives. This paper describes a multi-method approach for evaluating small interventions that sought to improve the quality of care for Medicaid beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions. Our approach relied on quantitative and qualitative methods to develop a complete understanding of each intervention. Quantitative data in the form of both process measures, such as case manager contacts, and outcome measures, such as hospital use, were reported and analyzed. Qualitative information was collected through interviews and the development of logic models to document the flow of intervention activities and how they were intended to affect outcomes. The logic models helped us to understand the underlying reasons for the success or lack thereof of each intervention. The analysis provides useful information on several fronts. First, qualitative data provided valuable information about implementation. Second, process measures helped determine whether implementation occurred as anticipated. Third, outcome measures indicated the potential for favorable results later, possibly suggesting further study. Finally, the evaluation of qualitative and quantitative data in combination helped us assess the potential promise of each intervention and identify common themes and challenges across all interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / standards
  • Disease Management*
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Health Plan Implementation / standards
  • Humans
  • Medicaid
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pilot Projects*
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Research Design
  • United States