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What works?Evidence-based policy and practice in public services$
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Huw T.O. Davies, Sandra M. Nutley, and Peter C. Smith

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9781861341914

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861341914.001.0001

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Debates on the role of experimentation

Debates on the role of experimentation

(p.251) Twelve Debates on the role of experimentation
What works?

Huw Davies

Sandra Nutley

Nick Tilley

Policy Press

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

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