Members of the Tackling Loneliness Hub recently came together for a workshop on analysing and disseminating loneliness evaluation. This blog summarises the insights shared by our expert Chair and panellists: Laura Joplin (Re-engage), Dr Helen MacIntyre (Campaign to End Loneliness), Dr Dragana Vidovic (University of Essex) and Dr Georgina Everett (Re-engage). If you’re a member of the Hub, visit the Loneliness Evaluation group to access the recording and slides from this workshop.
Analysing your data
After gathering your data, the next step in the loneliness evaluation process is to analyse and synthesise your findings.
When analysing and synthesising quantitive data, looking at the change in average scores is a helpful starting point, but looking at the distribution of scores across all participants will provide more context and give you a richer picture. At this stage it is helpful to think about what data you already have and what else you need for reporting purposes. For example, do you need to enhance your quantitative data set with qualitative data to build confidence in your findings? Interviews are helpful in picking up on changes that are not detected by individual scores and are useful in capturing experiences of how projects are run more generally.
To assess whether any changes in loneliness scores are because of your project, you might want to think about:
- Benchmarking – can you compare the loneliness scores with similar people in the same area?
- Contribution – can you talk with respondents about other support they have received and the difference it has made to their lives? Can you interview people about their experiences of the group and/or activity in their own terms?
- Attribution – can you set up a control group (such as people on a waiting list) to compare differences between loneliness scores?
Once you have the required data, you can do a thematic analysis, sorting what people have said into themes to help you structure the data and pull out the key findings (Shank, 2002):
- What sort of findings did you expect to get?
- How best can you organise these expected findings?
- What sort of findings did you get that you did not expect to get?
- How best can you organise these unexpected findings?
- Which three findings do you feel are the most important?
When writing up your findings it is important to give context to what you are reporting on:
- Describe your data – loneliness is a complex public health, so provide as much context as you can.
- Detail the baseline – tell the story of when your project ‘intervened’ in someone’s life.
- Be mindful of comparisons – does the project’s impact differ across different ages groups / transitions?
- Describe what worked – what worked, what didn’t work, for whom and why? Take care that as far as possible that the findings reflect a range of things that people have said.
Disseminating your findings
When preparing how to share your findings, it is good idea to think about:
- your key audience(s) (ie. colleagues, beneficiaries, funders, volunteers, wider public)
- your key messages from the data you have analysed
- any recommendations for action based on what you have found out
- the timeline for sharing the data
- an appropriate format for sharing the data, depending on your defined audience(s)
- appropriate channels for sharing the data (ie. email, social media, events)
Many of us will be familiar with the more traditional evaluation report. However, there are lots of simple and creative ways you can share your findings depending on your audience and internal resources. Your stakeholders will be able to let you know of their preferred format but you may want to:
- create a dedicated impact page on your website to share findings
- write a blog post which summarises your findings
- share your findings at sector events
- share highlights of your findings in email newsletters
- update colleagues via email or other internal messaging
- create a video from beneficiaries and volunteers describing their experiences of the project
- write anonymised case studies that provide a snapshot of the situation, actions, and reflections from a person who has done the project
- produce social media graphics that highlight key findings
- produce a poster which highlights key findings in a visual way
Do you have a question about analysing and disseminating loneliness evaluation? The Loneliness Evaluation group is a great place to start but lots of support is out there.
The What Works Centre for Wellbeing has a measurement microsite that contains lots of useful information about how to get started with your own evaluation process. The team also offers regular advice surgeries if you would like more bespoke support.
Could you connect with your local university? Many universities provide opportunities for organisations to engage with their academic departments and access support with evaluation. For example, the University of Essex has a data analytics innovation voucher which enables their renowned data researchers to work for you on a project of your choice.
Seeing how other organisations have undertaken their own loneliness evaluation is a great way for us to learn as a sector. Has your organisation recently gone through the evaluation process to monitor changes in loneliness levels? It would be great to hear how you got on and what you learned by sharing any details in the Loneliness Evaluation group.