Monitoring and evaluation of mental health and psychosocial support programs in humanitarian settings
Full title: Monitoring and evaluation of mental health and psychosocial support programs in humanitarian settings: a scoping review of terminology and focus
Authors: Jura L. Augustinavicius , M. Claire Greene , Daniel P. Lakin and Wietse A. Tol
This paper is an evaluation of monitoring and evaluation frameworks for mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) programs in humanitarian settings within low- and middle-income countries. This review has particular implications for program implementers, innovators, managers and stakeholders in the field, highlighting the importance of developing a standardized approach to monitoring and evaluation.
Abstract Background: Monitoring and evaluation of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) programs is critical to facilitating learning and providing accountability to stakeholders. As part of an inter-agency effort to develop recommendations on MHPSS monitoring and evaluation, this scoping review aimed to identify the terminology and focus of monitoring and evaluation frameworks in this field.
Methods: Authors collected program documents (logical frameworks (logframes) and theories of change) from members of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on MHPSS, and systematically searched the peer-reviewed literature across five databases. Program documents and academic articles were included that reported on monitoring and evaluation of MHPSS in low- and middle-income countries describing original data. Inclusion and data extraction were conducted in parallel by independent reviewers. Thematic analysis was used to identify common language in the description of practices and the focus of each monitoring and evaluation framework. Logframe outcomes were mapped to MHPSS activity categories.
Results: The authors identified 38 program documents and 89 peer-reviewed articles, describing monitoring and evaluation of a wide range of MHPSS activities. In both program documents and peer-reviewed literature there was a lack of specificity and overlap in language used for goals and outcomes. Well-validated, reliable instruments were reported in the academic literature, but rarely used in monitoring and evaluation practices. Authors identified six themes in the terminology used to describe goals and outcomes. Logframe outcomes were more commonly mapped to generic program implementation activities (e.g. “capacity building”) and those related to family and community support, while outcomes from academic articles were most frequently mapped to specialized psychological treatments.
Conclusions: Inconsistencies between the language used in research and practice and discrepancies in measurement have broader implications for monitoring and evaluation in MHPSS programs in humanitarian settings within low- and middle-income countries. This scoping review of the terminology commonly used to describe monitoring and evaluation practices and their focus within MHPSS programming highlights areas of importance for the development of a more standardized approach to monitoring and evaluation.