Real World Evaluation Strategies
- LAST REVIEWED: 21 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 25 November 2014
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0140
- LAST REVIEWED: 21 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 25 November 2014
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0140
Public health interventions are by nature complex and are implemented in contexts and with social actors who have a mutual influence on each other. It thus becomes nearly impossible, and more or less irrelevant, to control the interventions or to find direct causal relationships. It follows that most public health interventions are natural experiments for which appropriate methodological fit should be the gold standard. Therefore, researchers should adopt a pragmatic, non dogmatic position; be responsive; and adapt to the natural environment of the real world (as there is no such thing as a laboratory setting for public health interventions). Because of their complexity, we need to go beyond just knowing the interventions’ effects; we also want to know how those effects are produced, for whom, and under what circumstances. Methods should be selected that allow us to understand the inherent complexity of public health interventions. The social sciences have contributed significant methodological suggestions to the field of evaluation of complex interventions. In this context, the war of paradigms is unproductive. However, taking into account real-life situations does not mean abandoning the use of theories, conceptual frameworks, or the intervention theories identified in the preevaluation phase (evaluability assessment). Moreover, the issues related to an evaluation often extend beyond just methods. Budget constraints need to be considered, as well as the usefulness of the responses to the questions and concerns in terms of effecting change in practices and interventions (see the Oxford Bibliographies article “Knowledge Translation and Exchange”). Beyond studying effects, it also becomes essential to examine interventions’ implementation (fidelity and adaptation) and operationalization, as well as their relevance, appropriateness, sustainability, and acceptability. Thus the evaluation questions and concerns should guide the methods, and not the reverse. To the extent possible, we will present all these consubstantial aspects of a pragmatic and real-world evaluation approach from a conceptual perspective and then illustrate their application. (The authors wish to thank Donna Riley for translation and editing support.)
Generally speaking, interdisciplinary journals in the public health field publish evaluations, including those that meet the criteria described in this article. For this reason, those journals are not listed here. Notable exceptions are Global Health Promotion, which focuses specifically on the themes of population health and health promotion, and the Milbank Quarterly, which does not hesitate to offer evaluations using innovative methods, such as realistic evaluation. The American Journal of Evaluation and Evaluation are devoted to advancing practices and knowledge about evaluation and represent streams of thought from both sides of the Atlantic. The Journal of Mixed Methods Research and Qualitative Health Research also publish real-world evaluations, but from a methodological perspective, which is their focus. Finally, given that the aim of real-world evaluation is also to respond to questions arising from the field, Implementation Science is useful for understanding issues concerning the use of knowledge coming out of evaluation and research in the health field.
American Journal of Evaluation. 1981–.
Formerly Evaluation Practice (1981–), this journal is known for having hosted a debate between Carol H. Weiss and Michael Quinn Patton on the use of evaluation. The interdisciplinary journal aims to advance both theoretical and practical knowledge about evaluation.
This is a European journal devoted to evaluation in several fields, including health.
Global Health Promotion. 1994–.
Although it does not specialize in evaluation, this journal regularly publishes evaluations of programs in health promotion and population health and also provides more theoretical articles in this field. Articles may be in English, Spanish or French, and all supplements are open access.
Implementation Science. 2006–.
This open-access journal focuses on the use of research and evaluation in the health field. The journal contains not only empirical articles, but also articles that are conceptual or theoretical.
The primary aim of this journal is to advance knowledge and practice with respect to mixed-methods research in the social sciences, humanities, and health. For this reason, particular attention is given to empirical studies, particularly evaluations.
Milbank Quarterly. 1923–.
Formerly New York Health Demonstrations (1923–1930), the Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly Bulletin (1931–1933), the Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly (1934–1972), and the Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, Health and Society (1973–1985). This is a high-caliber journal that concentrates on different types of evaluations, as well as on theoretical and conceptual reflections on evaluation, in the fields of health and health policy.
This is one of the few journals that have allowed qualitative research specialists to demonstrate the relevance of this approach in the field of health sciences, especially through program evaluations.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Access to Health Care
- Action Research
- Active Aging
- Active Living
- Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior in the United States
- Advocacy, Public Health
- Agricultural Safety and Public Health
- Air Quality: Health Effects
- Air Quality: Indoor Health Effects
- Alcohol Availability and Violence
- Alternative Research Designs
- Ambient Air Quality Standards and Guidelines
- American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
- Asthma in Children
- Attachment as a Health Determinant
- Behavior Change Theory in Health Education and Promotion
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
- Bicycling and Cycling Safety
- Birth and Death Registration
- Birth Cohort Studies
- Board of Health
- Built Environment and Health, The
- Business and Corporate Practices
- Cancer Communication Strategies in North America
- Cancer Prevention
- Cancer Screening
- Capacity Building
- Capacity Building for NCDs in LMICs
- Capacity-Building for Applied Public Health in LMIC: A US ...
- Cardiovascular Health and Disease
- Child Maltreatment
- Children, Air Pollution and
- Children, Injury Risk-Taking Behaviors in
- Children, Obesity in
- Citizen Advisory Boards
- Climate Change and Human Health
- Climate Change: Institutional Response
- Clinical Preventive Medicine
- Community Air Pollution
- Community Development
- Community Gardens
- Community Health Assessment
- Community Partnerships and Coalitions
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Complexity and Systems Theory
- Definition of Health
- Dental Public Health
- Design and Health
- Dietary Guidelines
- Ecological Approaches
- Enabling Factors
- Environmental Laws
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Ethics of Public Health
- Evidence-Based Public Health Practice
- Family Planning Services and Birth Control
- Food Safety
- Food Security and Food Banks
- Food Systems
- Frail Elderly
- Functional Literacy
- Genomics, Public Health
- Geographic Information Systems
- Geography and Health
- Global Health
- Global Health Diplomacy
- Global Health Promotion
- Guide to Community Preventive Services, The
- Health Administration
- Health Communication
- Health Disparities
- Health Education
- Health Impact Assessment
- Health in All Policies
- Health in All Policies in European Countries
- Health Literacy
- Health Literacy and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Health Measurement Scales
- Health Planning
- Health Promoting Hospitals
- Health Promotion
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Healthy People Initiative
- Hepatitis C
- High Risk Prevention Strategies
- Human Rights, Health and
- Immigrant Populations
- Immunization and Pneumococcal Infection
- Indigenous Peoples, Public Health and
- Indigenous Populations of North America, Australasia, and ...
- Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
- Internet Applications in Promoting Health Behavior
- Intersectoral Strategies in Low - Middle Income Countries ...
- Justice, Social
- Knowledge Translation and Exchange
- Knowledge Utilization and Exchange
- Law of Public Health in the United States
- Media Advocacy
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Promotion
- Migrant Health
- Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention
- Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
- National Association of Local Boards of Health
- National Public Health Institutions
- Needs Assessment
- Obesity Prevention
- Occupational Cancers
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Oral Health Equity for Minority Populations in the United ...
- Ottawa Charter
- Parenting and Work
- Parenting Skills and Capacity
- Participatory Action Research
- Patient Decision Making
- Pesticide Exposure and Pesticide Health Effects
- Physical Activity and Exercise
- Physical Activity Promotion
- Polio Eradication in Pakistan
- Population Aging
- Population Determinants of Unhealthy Foods and Beverages
- Population Health Objectives and Targets
- Precautionary Principle
- Prenatal Health
- Program Evaluation in American Health Education
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Public Health, History of
- Public Health Surveillance
- Public-Private Partnerships in Public Health Research and ...
- Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent and Manage Obesity ...
- Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment
- Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies
- Randomized Controlled Trials
- Real World Evaluation Strategies
- Reducing Obesity-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic an...
- Rural Health in the United States
- Safety, Patient
- Sex Education in HIV/AIDS Prevention
- Skin Cancer Prevention
- Smoking Cessation
- Social Determinants of Health
- Social Epidemiology
- Social Marketing
- Statistics in Public Health
- Systems in the United States, Public Health
- Systems Theory in Public Health
- Traditional, Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative M...
- Translation of Science to Practice and Policy
- Traumatic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Tuberculosis among Adults and the Determinants of Health
- Unintentional Injury Prevention
- Urban Health
- Vaccine Hesitancy
- Violence Prevention
- Water Quality
- Water Quality and Water-Related Disease
- Weight Management in US Occupational Settings
- Worksite Health Promotion