Research Design Service: East Midlands
National Institute for Health Research
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Commonly asked questions about how to approach evaluation of quality improvement in health care

  Created on Wednesday, 01 Apr 2015. Posted in Methods

Evaluation is an essential part of quality improvement and when done well it can help to solve problems, inform decision making and build knowledge. While evaluation comes in many shapes and sizes, its key purpose is to help us to develop a deeper understanding of how best to improve health care.

People involved in quality improvement often ask us about how to approach evaluation. Inspired by the most commonly asked questions, this guide is intended to assist those new to evaluation by suggesting methodological and practical considerations and providing resources to support further learning.

Ten questions covered in the guide

  1. Why do an evaluation?
  2. What are the different types of evaluation?
  3. What are the design considerations for an evaluation?
  4. What are we comparing our intervention with?
  5. How does evaluation differ from other forms of measurement?
  6. What practical issues should we consider?
  7. When should we start and finish an evaluation?
  8. How do we cope with changes in the intervention when the evaluation is underway?
  9. Should we do the evaluation ourselves or commission an external team?
  10. How do we communicate evaluation findings?

The Health Foundation guide is not prescriptive or step-by-step as people and organisations will have very diverse evaluation needs. Instead, it aims to stimulate your thinking and support your plans for an evaluation that delivers what you need.