Evaluating the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program
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The project aims to evaluate the processes, impacts and consumer outcomes produced by ATAPS. Thirty-eight evaluation reports have been produced to date, most of which are in the public domain. Eighteen journal articles have also been published. Our findings have been used to inform Government decisions regarding the continuation of the program.
The Centre for Mental Health was commissioned to conduct the evaluation of the ATAPS program from its inception. The purpose of the ongoing evaluation of the ATAPS program has been to assess the overall appropriateness (whether consumers' needs have been met), effectiveness (whether program objectives have been met) and impact (or effects) of the program, and specifically whether ATAPS has improved access to primary mental health services and in turn mental health outcomes for people with high prevalence disorders. The evaluation approach has been both formative, assessing implementation processes or how the program operates, and summative, assessing the program's impact and outcomes to inform Government decisions regarding continuation of the program. Consequently, the design has been multifaceted, evolving in response to changes in the program itself and incorporating a range of different data sources and approaches to analysis. Specifically, the evaluation has drawn on routinely collected data from a purpose-designed minimum dataset, program documentation, Division-level evaluation reports, a forum with project staff, and topic-specific surveys and interviews of various stakeholders. Quantitative program utilisation data from the minimum dataset has provided breadth of information and this has been complemented with qualitative data from the stakeholder consultations to provide depth of information.
Professor Philip Burgess (School of Population Health, University of Queensland)
Australian Government Department of Health
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