About the Assessment
The Program Sustainability Assessment Tool is a 40 question self-assessment. Both your program staff and stakeholders can take the assessment to evaluate the sustainability capacity of a program. When you take the assessment online you will receive a summary report of your overall sustainability. You can use these results to help with sustainability planning.
- The assessment is made up of 40 multiple choice questions. You will rate your program/coalition/set of activities across 8 sustainability domains
- The assessment takes about 10-15 minutes to finish
- The assessment can be used by programs at community, state, and national levels
- The assessment can be taken as an individual or group
- The assessment is used by various programs, though public health, social services, clinical care, and educational programs have all found the assessment to be very relevant to their work
When doing a group assessment, we recommend multiple staff and stakeholders assess the same program. This makes sure many perspectives are included in the final sustainability report. Each individual can participate anonymously and will receive their own personal results. You can decide if you want to complete an assessment for a program or just invite others to complete the assessment. Only you will have access to the final group sustainability report.
NOTE: You can invite up to 12 people to complete a group assessment for free. If you are interested in assessing more than 12 people, please contact us.
How we developed the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool
Sustainability is a major challenge for all kinds of programs. With this in mind, the Center for Public Health Systems Science (CPHSS) wanted to create an assessment staff, managers, funders, and evaluators could use to measure their program’s sustainability. To develop the assessment, we conducted a literature review of sustainability in public health. Next, a Concept Mapping process was used to show the conceptual structure of sustainability. Expert input was used throughout the process. These experts included researchers, funders, and state and local program managers from four primary chronic disease program areas: tobacco control, obesity prevention, heart disease and stroke prevention, and injury prevention.
The resulting Sustainability Framework identified core domains of a conceptual framework for public health program capacity for sustainability. The Program Sustainability Assessment Tool was created to measure these core sustainability domains.
Read more about creating the Program Sustainability Framework.
How we know the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool measures the 8 different sustainability domains
We have used the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool in trainings and evaluations with over 550 individuals and over 250 unique programs at state and local levels. We ran extensive psychometric analyses on pilot data to improve the framework and assessment. The final Sustainability Framework and Assessment Tool has been reliability tested and can be used by programs in many levels and settings to better understand and plan for sustainability.
Read more about the reliability testing of the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool V1.
Updates to the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool
In response to feedback from partners, we rolled out a slightly different version of the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool in December 2013. In this updated version (V2), the Political Support domain (internal and external environments that support your program) was renamed Environmental Support (having a supportive internal and external climate for your program). In addition, four of the five domain items were changed to remove references to politics and policy and to focus on champions and leadership instead. These changes were made to broaden the relevance of the assessment to programs in different settings.
We piloted the Environmental Support domain with 56 state-level chronic disease departments and 2 state-level tobacco control programs with a total of 478 participants. Reliability testing showed that the Environmental Support domain had a good Cronbach’s Alpha (0.867). Sustaintool.org now uses the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool V2, which includes the Environmental Support domain.
Who funded this work
The first Program Sustainability Framework was developed with funding from the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors. Revision and distribution of the tool is funded by the Centers for Disease Control, Office on Smoking and Health.
Over five years ago, our center decided to create a free tool for measuring a program’s capacity for sustainability. Our Program Sustainability Assessment Tool is now available along with the following benefits for no cost:
- Free access to the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool with the ability to rate your program across 8 sustainability domains (a 10-15 minute assessment)
- Individual Sustainability Report (see a sample) that summarizes your responses
- Group Sustainability Report (see a sample) that combines responses from up to 12 individuals assessing the same program. The report can be used to guide sustainability planning
- Free custom profile to create and store your individual and group assessments
In addition to the free services described above, we also offer paid services. These services are designed to help you get the most out of our Program Sustainability Framework and Assessment Tool and to guide you in the sustainability planning process. Services available through paid consultation include:
- Customized Program Sustainability Assessment Tool for your group
- Webinars on the Sustainability Framework and Tool
- Workshops on building program sustainability capacity
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool reliable and valid?
The Program Sustainability Assessment Tool has been reliability tested. The Center for Public Health Systems Science is beginning the process of validating the tool. Learn more about the reliability testing.
Who has used the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool?
The Program Sustainability Assessment Tool has been used by over 1,000 individuals from over 320 unique programs. These programs have operated at the local, state, national, and even international levels. These programs addressed a range of topics, such as tobacco control, obesity prevention, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS.
Can I adapt the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool?
Yes. The Program Sustainability Assessment Tool is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share-Alike license. You may adapt the tool, but you must acknowledge Washington University as the original creator of the tool, you may not make a commercial profit off of your adapted tool, and you must share your version under the same terms. You can adapt the tool by changing the phrasing, adding, or dropping questions, etc. Keep in mind that when you make these changes the revised tool is no longer reliable. If you make changes, please send us a copy of the adapted tool at email@example.com
At what level can the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool be used?
The tool has been tested with community-level and state-level programs. The tool has also been used by national-level programs. The tool can be used with international programs, though the tool’s language may be less applicable.
Who should I invite to take the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool?
We recommend that multiple staff and stakeholders take the assessment individually for a more complete picture of your program. When you create an account, you have the option to set up a Group Assessment and invite multiple people to individually complete the assessment tool. Results are then averaged together in a Group Sustainability Report.
When identifying participants, choose people who are knowledgeable about the program and invested in its mission. For example, front line staff, volunteers, program managers, organizational leadership, and budget officers could all bring different but valuable perspectives. If community support or partners are essential for the services you provide, consider involving representatives from these groups too. After you receive your Group Sustainability Report, it is important to discuss differences in opinion over the scores.
What kinds of programs should use the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool?
The tool was originally designed for public health programs. However, we believe it is also relevant for social service and clinical care programs.
We also use the term ‘program’ loosely. A program is a set of formal organized activities.
How long will it take to complete?
Taking the online Program Sustainability Assessment Tool is quick and easy; you only need 10-15 minutes!
How was the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool developed?
The Program Sustainability Framework and Assessment Tool are grounded in a comprehensive literature review and expert-informed Concept Mapping.
Who should use the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool?
Program staff, leadership, evaluators, partners, and funders are all encouraged to use the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool and engage in sustainability planning. In fact, we recommend that multiple staff and stakeholders take the assessment individually for a more complete picture of your program.
How many questions are there?
The Program Sustainability Assessment Tool has a total of 40 likert scale questions and looks at 8 different sustainability domains.
What is the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool?
The Program Sustainability Assessment Tool is a 40 item self-assessment that program staff and stakeholders can take to evaluate the sustainability capacity of a program. We define sustainability capacity as the ability to maintain programming and its benefits over time. When you take the assessment online you will receive an automated summary report of your overall sustainability. You can use these results to engage in sustainability planning.