2.8: Chain of Outcomes

Outcomes often fall along a continuum from shorter- to longer-term results. This is usually broken into three stages: short, medium, and long term. As you will see later, there actually can be any number of intermediate outcomes between the initial and ultimate outcomes.

In this course we will use the terms “short-term,” “medium-term,” and “long-term,” but other terms may also be used.

Short-Term OutcomeMedium-Term OutcomeLong-Term Outcome

Example: Academic improvement program

An academic improvement program that includes school-home relations, mentoring, and homework help has the following sequence of outcomes depicting the program theory.

Short-term outcome = As a result of improved school-home relations...." Medium-term outcome = it is expected that school attendance will improve .... And long-term outcome = leading to improved academic performance.


A nutritional program for the elderly also has a sequence of possible outcomes.

Short-term outcome = Participating seniors increase their knowledge of food contamination risks...." Medium-term outcome = leading them to practice safer food cooling techniques .... And long-term outcome = which will result in a lower incidence of food-borne illnesses among seniors.

In addition to the outcomes shown here, additional outcomes could be added to the right. A lower incidence of foodborne illnesses could lead to lower health costs and to a higher quality of life.

The continuum is called a “chain of outcomes” (United Way of America, 1996), an “outcome line” (Mohr, 1995), the “outcome sequence chart” (Hatry, 1999), or “outcome hierarchy” (Funnell, 2000). This concept — a series of outcomes that are connected — is fundamental to a logic model. We’ll cover this more in Section 3.

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