Measuring program outcomes: Using retrospective pretest methodology

Clara C. Pratt, William M. Mcguigan, Aphra R. Katzev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

400 Scopus citations


This study used longitudinal data from 307 mothers with firstborn infants participating in a home-visitation, child-abuse prevention program. A self-report measure of specific constructs the program hoped to affect showed that the retrospective pretest methodology produced a more legitimate assessment of program outcomes than did the traditional pretest-posttest methodology. Results showed that when response shift bias was present, traditional pretest-posttest comparisons resulted in an underestimation of program effects that could easily be avoided by the retrospective pretest methodology. With demands for documenting program outcomes increasing, retrospective pretest designs are shown to be a simple, convenient, and expeditious method for assessing program effects in responsive interventions. The limits of retrospective pretests, and methods for strengthening their use, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-349
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Evaluation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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