11 questions to help you make sense of a trial research

The right program will obviously vary depending on your research interests, but some questions that will inform your choice include: Once you've found an appropriate setting, you'll have to convince the organization to collaborate with you on an evaluation. Will the program that worked in the next town, or the one that we read about in a professional journal, work with our population, or with our issue? The Critical Appraisals Skills Programme (CASP) has over 25 years of significant and unrivalled expertise in the delivery of training to healthcare professionals. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. It means finding out all you can about the community, the organization, the program, and the participants beforehand - the social structure of the community and where participants fit in it, the history of the issue in question, how the organization is viewed, relationships among groups and individuals, community politics, etc. There are interactions between the choice of sites and the choice of participants here. It could be to educate them about healthy eating, and to persuade them to be more adventurous eaters. But how can we know whether a claimed intervention is truly effective? Second, you will need to consider how you will determine what you're doing right, and what you need to change. Who has to change in order to address the issue? Research question examples. If none of them knows of one offhand, someone can almost undoubtedly put you in touch with human service agencies and others who will. Before the meeting, send a proposal outlining what you want to do. Donate now. If your approach isn't effective, are there other approaches out there that hold more promise? R. (2003). To be sure that this is a problem you really should be addressing, consider its importance to those affected and to the community. Handbook of practical program evaluation. If you can't get a personal introduction, it's usually best to send a letter requesting a meeting and explaining why, and follow it up with a phone call. You also have to learn enough in a short period about the community, the organization, the program, and the participants to devise a good evaluation plan, and to analyze the data you and others gather.

Seeking supports for evaluation? In J. Rothman and E.J. We've chosen to devote so much space to evaluation because it's one of the most important parts of any effort to improve community life and bring about lasting social change. - without which a program and its evaluation can go astray. Chen, H.T. They can help you line up interviews with participants or other important informants, for instance, and/or act as informants themselves about community conditions and relationships. If your program is relatively small and/or has only one site, this wouldn't be an issue. This explanation should also cover issues of confidentiality and permission of participants. Some of the same differences between the concerns of researchers and the concerns of practitioners may hold here. Critical appraisal skills enable you to systematically assess the trustworthiness, relevance and results of published papers. (Evaluation, whether formal or informal, is in fact research.) If possible, get to know the community physically: walk and/or drive around it, visit businesses, parks, restaurants, the library. People may start and drop out of a program numerous times, and then finally come back and complete it. If methods or other factors vary from site to site, that will further complicate the situation. A formal evaluation will probably wait until there's funding for it, or until someone has the time to coordinate or take charge of it. Is the discrepancy between ideal and actual conditions of the kind and size to be considered important? Wholey, J.S. You may be dealing with a program that has just started, or with one that's been operating for a long time. First, you have to find a place to conduct your research - a program to evaluate - that fits in with your research interests. Learning about the community, the organization, and the participants beforehand will both help you determine whether this program fits with your research and help you advocate for its cooperation with your project. Or you might instead or in addition target policy makers, with the goal of having them offer tax incentives to businesses that locate in or close to minority communities. If your program is relatively small this might not be an issue - the participants will simply be all those in the program. Your experience with an issue and its consequences in a particular population or community, Your knowledge of promising interventions and their effects on similar issues, The uniqueness of the issue to your particular community or population, The similarity of the issue to other issues in your community, or the issue's interaction with other issues, Those in direct personal contact with those directly affected: parents, spouses and children, other relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers. Are they in the program participants' personal environment (participants themselves, family, friends), service environment (teachers, police), or broader environment (policymakers, media, general public)? You may be talking about changes in specific participant behaviors, about behaviors that act as indicators of other changes, or about results of another sort (participants gaining employment, for instance, which may have a direct relationship to participant behavior or may have more to do with local economic conditions). It could be to encourage weight loss in kids who are overweight or obese. - for minority job seekers aged 18-24. Choosing those questions well entails understanding the context of the program - the community, participants, the culture of any groups involved, the history of the issue and of the social structure of the community and the organization - and (if you're an outside evaluator without ties to the program) establishing trust with administrators, staff members, and participants. The goal of the chapter is to provide guidelines that are useful to grassroots or community-based organizations as well as students or academic researchers. And when you're finished - having analyzed the information and planned and made the changes that were needed - it's time to start the process again, so that you can determine whether those changes had the effects you intended. If groups of participants belong to populations with distinctly different cultures, stemming from race, ethnicity, class, religion, or other factors. Evaluations that involve all stakeholders have a number of advantages over those conducted in a vacuum by outside evaluators or agency or program staff. The wider you spread your net, the more likely you are to find the program you're looking for. That means that there is representation of the views and knowledge of people affected by the issue to be addressed. Explaining what you need from the organization and/or program - participation of participants and staff, for instance, any logistical support, access to records, or access to program activities, Explaining what you're offering in return - your services for a comprehensive formal evaluation, any stipends, equipment or materials, other support services, or whatever else you may have to offer, Clarifying the organization's needs, and discussing how they fit with your own - and how both can be satisfied, Developing and testing a prototype intervention, Selecting an appropriate experimental design, Gathering and interpreting ethnographic information, Encouraging participation throughout the research, Refining the intervention based on the evaluation, Preparing the evaluation results for dissemination. Thus, there were actually nine different groups among BEEP participants, even though, by the third year, all were receiving services at the same time. The overall question they were concerned with - "Will these strategies make it possible to mediate successfully where teens are involved?"

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