Process evaluation of complex interventions. UK Medical Research Council (MRC) guidance

(copied from here:

“Updated MRC guidance for evaluation of complex interventions published in 2008 (Craig et al.2008) highlighted the value of process evaluation within trials of complex interventions in order to understand implementation, the mechanisms through which interventions produce change, and the role of context in shaping implementation and effectiveness. However, it provided limited insight into how to conduct a good quality process evaluation.

New MRC guidance for process evaluation of complex interventions has been produced on behalf of the MRC Population Health Sciences Research Network by a group of 11 health researchers from 8 universities, in consultation with a wider stakeholder group. The author group was chaired by Dr Janis Baird, MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton. The development of the guidance was led by Dr Graham Moore, DECIPHer, Cardiff University.

The document begins with an introductory chapter which sets out the reasons why we need process evaluation, before presenting a new framework which expands on the aims for process evaluation identified within the 2008 complex interventions guidance (implementation, mechanisms of impact and context). It then presents discrete sections on process evaluation theory (Section A) and process evaluation practice (Section B), before offering a number of detailed case studies from process evaluations conducted by the authors (Section C).

The guidance has received endorsement and support from the MRC’s Population Health Science Group and Methodology Research Panel, as well as NIHR NETSCC. An abridged version will also follow shortly.

You can download the 2014 guidance (pdf) by clicking here.

An editorial in the BMJ explains why process evaluation is key to public health research, and why new guidance is needed. The editorial is available, open access, here.

If you have any queries, please contact Dr. Graham Moore:”


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