Evaluation of complex interventions

Systematic Reviews of complex interventions

March 21, 2012

Speaker: Mark Petticrew

There is ongoing interest among practitioners, policymakers and researchers in how evidence of the effects of complex interventions can be produced, and synthesized. This interest stems partly from the need to further develop the evidence base in many areas of social and health policy. However, synthesising this evidence base becomes more challenging as one moves along the spectrum from simpler towards more complex interventions. This is partly because more complex interventions can involve multi-method evaluation approaches which are not limited to RCTs alone. For example, they may collect qualitative and other data to explain how interventions work and to explore how the intervention interacts with its context. However, it is also important not to overstate the challenges: “Complexity is a strategy used by professional elites to maintain control. Proclaiming that a problem is complex is shorthand for saying that you have no role in solving it.” (Roberts & Edwards, 2011). This presentation will consider both challenges and solutions.

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