Promising practices in health and wellness programs often include rigorous program evaluations, but understanding what constitutes a thorough wellness program evaluation is not as clear. The literature and other sources show wide variation in program outcomes and differences in expectations among employers on how long it will take to see improvements and the kinds of outcomes that can be expected for both short and long term. Although there is a need for additional published studies that demonstrate rigorous evaluation methods, there are evaluation considerations unique to wellness/health promotion programs that should be considered by employers that will help shape the evaluation design. An evaluation design for program customer reporting should balance feasibility, cost of evaluation and the marginal value that will be gained from using more rigorous designs. Employers should consider the following factors when determining the appropriate evaluation design for their program:
- Program costs versus evaluation costs
- Program scope
- Program duration
- Availability of appropriate control group
- Availability of claims data
- Number of participants in program (sample size)
The Model of Wellness Program Impacts is designed to outline the range of relevant outcomes for the evaluation of wellness programs. The framework of this model also is designed to convey two important points. First, outcomes associated with wellness programs are multidimensional and interdependent and, for the most part, follow a logical chain of effects. Second, given the temporal dimension implicit in this chain of impact, the expected time frames for effecting different types of outcomes may vary considerably. The framework highlights the different domains of wellness program outcomes and strives to set realistic expectations about reasonable time frames for demonstrating results for each.
 The Healthier People Network Health Risk Appraisal Program. A Risk Appraisal for Children and Adolescents. http://www.thehealthierpeoplenetwork.org/id3.html
 Grossmeier J, Terry PE, Cipriotti A, Burtaine JE. Best practices in evaluating worksite health promotion programs. Am J Health Promot. 2010 Jan-Feb; 24(3): TAHP-1-TAHP-12.
 Care Continuum Alliance. Outcomes Guidelines Report. Vol. 5. Washington, DC: Care Continuum Alliance. 2010.