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Process evaluation in complex public health intervention studies: the need for guidance [Editorial]

Moore, Graham ORCID:, Audrey, S., Barker, M., Bond, L., Bonell, C., Cooper, C., Hardeman, W., Moore, Laurence Anthony Russell, O'Cathain, A., Tinati, T., Wight, D. and Baird, J. 2014. Process evaluation in complex public health intervention studies: the need for guidance [Editorial]. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 68 (2) , pp. 101-102. 10.1136/jech-2013-202869

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Public health interventions aim to improve the health of populations or at-risk subgroups. Problems targeted by such interventions, such as diet and smoking, involve complex multifactorial aetiology. Interventions will often aim to address more than one cause simultaneously, targeting factors at multiple levels (eg, individual, interpersonal, organisational), and comprising several components which interact to affect more than one outcome.1 They will often be delivered in systems which respond in unpredictable ways to the new intervention.2 Recognition is growing that evaluations need to understand this complexity if they are to inform future intervention development, or efforts to apply the same intervention in another setting or population.1 Achieving this will require evaluators to move beyond a ‘does it work?’ focus, towards combining outcomes and process evaluation. There is no such thing as a typical process evaluation, with the term applied to studies which range from a few simple quantitative items on satisfaction, to complex mixed-method studies exploring issues such as the process of implementation, or contextual influences on implementation and outcomes. As recognised within MRC guidance for evaluating complex interventions, process evaluation may be used to ‘assess fidelity and quality of implementation, clarify causal mechanisms and identify contextual factors associated with variation in outcomes’.1 This paper briefly discusses each of these core aims for process evaluation, before describing current Medical Research Council (MRC) Population Health Sciences Research Network (PHSRN) funded work to develop guidance for process evaluations of complex public health interventions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Publisher: BMJ Publishing
ISSN: 0143-005x
Funders: MRC, ESRC, Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, Welsh Government, British Heart Foundation
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 13 August 2013
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2023 18:16

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