Social service research and religion: Thoughts about how to measure intervention-based impact

David A. Zanis, Ram A. Cnaan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Development of accountability standards to demonstrate cause and effect relationships are gaining rapid advancement in the field of social sciences. Many governmental agencies, foundations, and other funders have developed approaches that require organizations to utilize science-based programs and incorporate evaluative methods to show improved outcomes and cost benefits to society. This article will examine the need for increased accountability in developing effective interventions by faith-based organizations in the delivery of social service interventions. Recently, there has been a strong movement toward governmental funding for faith-based institutions to provide social services, although there has been inadequate scientific data to demonstrate that approaches implemented are effective in meeting needs or yielding favorable outcomes. Similarly, many faith-based organizations provide innovative and effective programs that could serve as model programs if there was appropriate empirical evidence. This article will discuss how rigorous evaluative approaches such as randomized clinical control trials can produce scientific data on program effectiveness. We will use a case example in the field of drug and alcohol treatment to illustrate these points.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFaith-Based Social Services
Subtitle of host publicationMeasures, Assessments, and Effectiveness
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780203726259
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2006 by The Haworth Press. All rights reserved.


  • Control clinical trials
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Faith-based intervention
  • Social services
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Health Professions


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