Improving transparency of complex interventions through the facilitation of process evaluation training Behavior ChangeCatalyst Training Project

Elaine Toomey

Locations: National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), Health Behaviour Change Research Group (HBCRG)

Process evaluation is a way of investigating how well an intervention, programme or treatment was implemented as intended. It is crucial for facilitating transparency in the development, conduct and reporting of interventions in numerous research fields, including psychology, social science and public health, as it helps to increase confidence that changes in study outcomes are due to the influence of the intervention being investigated, and not due to differences or variability in the implementation of the intervention. It is particularly important within complex interventions (interventions with several interacting components such as multiple providers or intervention sites) due to the number of components that can be implemented variably and thus influence outcomes separately. This increases scientific confidence in the results of the intervention, enhances the replication and implementation of effective interventions, facilitates the refinement or de-implementation of ineffective interventions and overall serves to reduce research waste. However, at present specific process evaluation training is not available in Ireland which represents a significant barrier to the transparency of Irish intervention research and the implementation of best quality evidence into practice.

At present, the gold-standard for process evaluation training in Europe is run by the Centre for Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) in the UK, an International Centre of Excellence. This project aims to facilitate world-class DECIPHer process evaluation training in Ireland to improve the transparency of complex interventions in psychology, public health or social science settings and overall enhance the quality and impact of this research. Subsequent dissemination of the workshop proceedings and materials will also promote further understanding of this work amongst the wider BITSS community.

This project is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.