Professor of Health Services Research at the University of Sheffield, Alicia O’Cathain, who heads the Medical Care Research Unit at ScHARR, gave an outstanding CaHRU/LIH seminar on ‘Using process evaluations alongside randomised controlled trials and other outcome evaluations’ on 23 May 2018 at the University of Lincoln.
The seminar was based on the Medical Research Council guidance on process evaluations (Moore G, Audrey S, Barker M, Bond L, Bonell C, Cooper C, Hardeman W, Moore L, O’Cathain A, Tannaze T, Wight D, Baird J. Process evaluation of complex interventions. Medical Research Council guidance. BMJ 2015 350:h1258) which Prof O’Cathain co-authored. She described the importance of process evaluations using mixed methods in helping researchers realise how understanding trial processes can help us appreciate how or why a complex interventions works or does not work as intended, which is critical to its effectiveness and subsequent implementation.
She went on to describe the contextual factors that determine how an intervention works, limit what is delivered, affect how it works and govern what effects it has. Qualitative interviews with those delivering or receiving the intervention can help elucidate the components that are deemed useful and their perceived benefits while quantitative analysis can help to enumerate the mediators of any effects. The analysis can be integrated to develop a logic model and programme theory of the intervention.
Prof O’Cathain concluded by covering key aspects of planning, analysis and reporting of process evaluations and introducing her new book on the subject.
By Prof A N Siriwardena