Chapter

Debates on the role of experimentation

Huw Davies, Sandra Nutley and Nick Tilley

in What works?

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2000 | ISBN: 9781861341914
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447304265 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861341914.003.0012
Debates on the role of experimentation

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Interventions are delivered with the hope of achieving some outcome. Whether such interventions ‘work’ in terms of achieving the desired outcomes is paramount. In the view of many, experimentation, in the form of the randomised controlled trial, has become the ‘gold standard’ in producing evidence of such effects. Within many parts of healthcare, experimentation has become obligatory, and there are evangelical advocates for its adoption in other sectors. However, this chapter notes growing unease with experimentation in certain quarters for a number of reasons, fundamentally because it rarely offers useful insights into why a particular intervention performs better than another. When the interest is in what works in what context, such information may be crucial. The chapter explores the use of theory-driven evaluation as one possible way forward.

Keywords: theory-driven evaluation; intervention; healthcare experimentation; randomised controlled trial

Chapter.  8032 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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