Evidence Lab

The Duke Global Health Institute Evidence Lab conducts, and builds capacity to conduct, objective and high-quality evaluation using rigorous and innovative research designs paired with cutting-edge methods. Our team blends theory and practice, and draws upon the research and policy expertise at Duke University to disseminate evidence to policymakers and diverse stakeholders.

We draw on Duke University faculty with long-standing research agendas, bringing their specific expertise to bear on the current evaluation. We also utilize faculty with statistical and methods expertise.

“Good intentions in designing innovative programs is not enough. We must take a scientific approach to measuring the effectiveness of social innovations to understand what does and does not work. I couldn’t do this without the Evidence Lab.” Nimmi Ramanujam, DGHI faculty

Full Spectrum Evaluation

The DGHI Evidence Lab conducts evaluations ranging from formative, pre-intervention research to impact evaluation to policy recommendations and dissemination. We utilize quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches. 

Evidence Lab Expertise Includes:

  • Impact evaluation
  • Formative evaluation
  • Process evaluation
  • Implementation science
  • Economic analyses
  • Policy research
  • Research dissemination and utilization

Examples Include:

  • Kathryn Whetten utilized a longitudinal cross-sectional time series design to evaluate orphan services in four geographic areas in Malawi.
  • Randall Kramer is leading an interdisciplinary study of malaria vector control and disease management interventions using a cluster-randomized factorial design in rural settings in Tanzania.
  • Krishna Udayakumar, through Innovations in Healthcare (formerly IPIHD), is developing a database and framework to categorize transformative health innovation globally, facilitating the evaluation of effectiveness and the scalability of global health enterprises.
  • Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell evaluated a hepatitis C knowledge and testing campaign for people with HIV infection in North Carolina, USA, using an interrupted time series design.
  • Joe Egger is leading a USAID-funded evaluation of the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD) initiative, an interdisciplinary program assessing factors that influence how organizations scale innovations in global health in India and East Africa.
  • John Bartlett evaluates the outcomes associated with antiretroviral therapy in cohort and randomized controlled studies in resource-limited settings.
  • Shenglan Tang is leading a team of researchers from DGHI, Duke Kunshan University, and four Chinese universities to evaluate innovative financing models of, and alternative provider payment methods used for, tuberculosis care and control in China.
  • Joy Noel Baumgartner utilized a cluster-randomized design to evaluate a job aid for family planning providers to improve contraceptive continuation for clients in rural South Africa.


Our Approach

Innovative Methods

For each evaluation, we consider all research designs and propose the design that offers the optimal degree of causal inference and understanding. We tailor the research design and data collection to each specific project.  Illustrative designs include randomized controlled trials (individual or cluster), interrupted time series analysis, randomized multiple baseline surveys, and quasi-experimental designs. We also often engage in mixed-methods research, utilizing qualitative methods including focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, observations, and daily diaries.

Health Policy Recommendations & Research Utilization

We approach each evaluation with the policy makers in mind, and build in the data collection needed to answer the most pressing policy questions.  We build relationships and take the time to craft useful, data-driven recommendations and disseminate them to a wide range of stakeholders.  Cognizant of the “research to practice” gap, we embrace strategies such as collaborative research, stakeholder engagement, advocacy, and communication that help link evidence to policies, programs and practice.

Building Local Capacity & Attention to Cultural Context

Capacity building activities (e.g. training, building internal assets, collaboration over the full course of project from inception to publication) within our local partnerships is a core principle of the DGHI Evidence Lab.  Local capacity among program and research partners allows communities and countries to utilize improved research methods and/or evidence-based practices after external resources have ended. In addition, together with local collaborators, we reach out to and solicit feedback from community stakeholders and create feedback loops that ensure the project’s research questions and data are accurate and useful.

Our Team

Joy Noel Baumgartner, Director

Joy Noel Baumgartner has a PhD in maternal and child health with postdoctoral training in psychiatric epidemiology. She has experience with a range of evaluation techniques from formative research to inform program design to impact evaluations in a variety of resource-limited settings. In sub-Saharan Africa, she has developed and tested interventions to improve reproductive health outcomes for women through improved health provider practices and new integrated service delivery strategies. Joy Noel has expertise in both qualitative and quantitative research methods, including community/stakeholder engagement and participatory research.

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Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, Advisor, Founding Director

Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell holds a PhD in clinical-community psychology. She has designed and conducted evaluations across a wide-range of interventions, including integrated physical and mental health interventions; sharing of electronic medical records; public health awareness and knowledge campaigns; and weight loss and stress reduction interventions. Rae Jean has employed a variety of research designs, including Randomized Controlled Trials; Interrupted Time Series analysis; and randomized multiple baseline designs. She is skilled in both qualitative and quantitative analysis and has developed and published measures culturally tailored for use with specific populations.

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Jennifer Headley, Evaluation Research Specialist

Jennifer is an Evaluation Research Specialist with the DGHI Evidence Lab, which conducts, and builds capacity to conduct, high-quality and rigorous evaluations. Within the Evidence Lab, she is working to develop and test evaluation toolkits for SEAD innovators. Jennifer has expertise as a research analyst and project manager of a wide range of studies, including formative research studies, impact evaluations, and randomized controlled trials. Jennifer worked with FHI 360's Social and Behavioral Health Sciences department for more than 6 years prior to joining DGHI, analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, managing multi-site studies in low-resource settings, conducting trainings, and building site capacity.

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Kendal Swanson, Associate in Research

Kendal Swanson joined the Evidence Lab a few months after completing her Masters’ in Economics at Duke in 2015. Using her training in quantitative research methods, statistical analysis, and economic theory, she is working with the team to develop and test an economic analysis toolkit for SEAD innovators. Kendal has hands-on experience working in the field and on qualitative and quantitative studies. She is also at the Sanford School of Public Policy as an associate in research working on impact evaluations of health interventions in India.



Sample Publications

  • Baumgartner JN, Green M, Weaver MA, Mpangile G, Kohi TW, Mujaya SN, Lasway C. Integrating family planning services into HIV care and treatment clinics in Tanzania: evaluation of a facilitated referral model. Health Policy & Planning 2014 Aug;29(5):570-9.
  • Proeschold-Bell, R.J., Swift, R., Bennett, G., Moore, H. E., Li, X., Blouin, R., Williams, V., Williams, R., & Toole, D. (2013). Use of a randomized multiple baseline design: Rationale and design of the Spirited Life holistic health intervention study. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 35, 138-152, doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2013.05.005.
  • Whetten, K., Ostermann, J., Whetten, R.A., Pence, B.W., O’Donnell, K., Messer, L.C., Thielman, N.M., & The Positive Outcomes for Orphans (POFO) Research Team (2009). A Comparison of the Wellbeing of Orphans and Abandoned Children Ages 6-12 in Institutional and Community-Based Care Settings in 5 Less Wealthy Nations. PLoS ONE, 4 (12), e8169. 2009.
  • Kramer, R., Jenkins, A., & Lesser, A. (Forthcoming). The Role of Ecosystem Service Payments in Achieving Conservation Goals: Attitudes Among Farm Operators, chapter in Valuing Ecosystem Services – Methodological Issues and Case Studies, K.N. Ninan, editor, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishers.
  • Wang, H., Liu, Q., Vu, H., & Tang, S. (2013). Comparison between peer-led and teacher-led education in tuberculosis prevention in rural middle schools of Chongqing, China. Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health. Oct. 4, 2013, PMID: 24097927.
  • Proeschold-Bell, R.J., Hoeppner, B., Taylor, B., Cohen, S., Blouin, R., Stringfield, B., & Muir, A. (2010). An Interrupted Time Series evaluation of a hepatitis C intervention for persons with HIV. AIDS and Behavior, 15 (8), 1721-1731. DOI: 10.1007/s10461-010-9870-1.
  • Bartlett, J., & Shao, J. Success, challenges and limitations of antiretroviral therapy in resource-limited settings. (2009). The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 9, 637-649.
  • Baumgartner JN, Parcesepe A, Mekuria YG, Abitew DB, Gebeyehu W, Okello F, et al. Maternal mental health in Amhara region, Ethiopia: a cross-sectional survey. Glob Health Sci Pact. 2014;2(4):482-486.  With link since it’s an open access article  http://www.ghspjournal.org/content/2/4/482.long
  • Tolley EE, Kaaya S, Kaale A, Minja A, Bangapi D, Kalungura H, Headley J, Baumgartner JN.  Comparing patterns of sexual risk among adolescent and young women in a mixed-method study in Tanzania: implications for adolescent participation in HIV prevention trials. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2014, 17(3 Suppl 2):19149.
  • Headley, J, Lemons A, Corneli A, Agot, K, Amed, K, Weng, M, Odhiambo J, Skhosana J, Tharaldson J, Van Damme, L, MacQueen, K. “The Sexual Risk Context among the FEM-PrEP Study Population in Bondo, Kenya and Pretoria, South Africa.” PLoS One. 2014 Sept 17; 9(9).