What Is An Evidence-Based Program?

Evidence-based programs are programs that have been rigorously tested in controlled settings, proven effective, and translated into practical models that are widely available to community-based organizations. It is also important that the evaluations themselves have been subjected to critical peer review. That is, experts in the field – not just the people who developed and evaluated the program – have examined the evaluation’s methods and agreed with its conclusions about the program’s effects. Ultimately, when you implement an evidence-based program, you can be confident you’re delivering a program that works and is highly likely to improve the health of your constituents.

Advantages Of Evidence-Based Programs

Implementing an evidence-based program is widely considered a “best practice” strategy for community health promotion. Evidence-based programs can add value in many ways.

  • Positively impacting the health of the program participants is more likely with an evidence-based program.
  • Funders increasingly demand that programming be based on solid evidence.
  • Agency leaders want to concentrate limited resources on proven programs.
  • Program managers can concentrate their efforts on program delivery rather than program development. Allowing them more time to reach a larger population and have a great impact.
  • Older adults are savvy and want to invest their time and money in programs that have been proven to work.
  • The demonstrated outcomes of evidence-based programs are attractive to community members and potential partners, facilitating community buy-in and the formation of partnerships, especially with healthcare/clinical partners.


Important Distinction: Research-Based ≠ Evidence-Based

A common misconception is that programs that have been based on research can then be considered evidence-based. However, many research-based programs do not actually fit the definition of an evidence-based program as stated at the beginning of this document. Just because a program contains research-based content, or was guided by research, doesn’t mean that the program itself has been proven effective. Unless the program has been tested and shown to be effective, it is incorrect to call it “evidence-based.”

Sourced from the EBLC’s Evidence-Based Programs 101


The Evidence-Based Leadership Collaborative (EBLC) includes 15 programmatic and organizational leaders, representing 19 nationally recognized evidence-based programs and six community-based organizations that provide evidence-based programming. The Council has more than 200 combined years in developing, evaluating, scaling, implementing and sustaining evidence-based self-management programs. EBLC directors have experienced broad and increasing demands for their programs, and together, have taken on the challenge of integrating infrastructures to bring the true promise of these programs to scale to measurably improve health outcomes in diverse adult populations.

The National Council on Aging‘s (NCOA) Center for Healthy Aging supports the expansion and sustainability of evidence-based health promotion and disease prevention programs in the community and online through collaboration with national, state, and community partners. NCOA’s goal is to help older adults live longer and healthier lives. The Center for Healthy Aging houses two Administration for Community Living-funded Resource Centers:

Both resource centers serve organizations seeking to implement, evaluate, and sustain evidence-based programs. Technical assistance is provided through a collection of resources on evidence-based program implementation and sustainability, webinars, an annual meeting, a monthly e-newsletter, individualized support, and more.

N4A’s Aging and Disability Business Institute is led by The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) in partnership with the most experienced and respected organizations in the aging and disability networks. Together, these organizations provide community-based organizations (CBOs) with the tools and resources to successfully adapt to a changing health care environment, enhance their organizational capacity and capitalize on emerging opportunities to diversify funding. Serving as the national focal point to build the business acumen of CBOs, the Business Institute focuses on building skills and knowledge across business disciplines, while looking ahead to the future of aging and disability services.

The overarching vision of this initiative is to improve the health and well-being of America’s older adults and people with disabilities through improved and increased access to quality services and evidence-based programs. Such access can help older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity and independence in their homes and communities. Building the business capacity of aging and disability CBOs, enabling them to effectively contract with health care payers, will ultimately lead to improved quality of life for older adults and people with disabilities through better integration and coordination of a wide array of medical and social services and supports.

Additional Resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Prevention Recommended and Promising Programs.

The Prevention Research Centers (PRC) is a network of 26 academic research centers in 24 states that study how people and their communites can avoid or counter the risks for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity, and cancer. We are fortunate to have University of Washington’s HPRC serve as scientific advisors to Project Enhance.



Project Enhance

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