Evaluations of specific interventions

Evaluations of specific interventions

A major area of evaluation is research on the effectiveness of  specified interventions - specific activities (such as CBT, mindfulness, motivational interviewing) where there is a general belief, or simply an assumption, that consistency in  application of the intervention in question is valuable in itself.

Here the principal concern for complex needs service research is to ensure that evidence on such interventions that are proven effective for the majority is still relevant to those most excluded (See Johnson, right panel, on complex needs services). Typically standard treatments need considerable revision, adaptation and customisation ('personalisation") to meet more complex needs; and this may take their actual use far from the standardised original.

Other approaches, more suited to complex and entrenched needs and exclusion, are harder to craft, and they tend to produce softer, more 'qualitative' conclusions. But by being free-er to take into consideration all the elements of context that standardised evaluations must exclude, they may be more relevant.

These considerations have influenced the development of the PIE Abacus, as a research tool. The addition of a specific, perhaps highly specified, intervention as a "bespoke field" in a study with actual services which also record a wide range of other features of their service could provide a platform for the analysis of the effects of specified interventions, which does attempt to include the wider environment.


NB: Some approaches, such as Housing First, combine a number of different elements, as a package of interventions, with some easier to define than others. Despite some early concerns for 'mission drift', those who adopt and promote Housing First have generally been able to manage the dilemma by distinguishing those areas where strict standardisation is expected from others where a high degree of customisation and personalisation is allowed - even required.

(We are promised another paper - 'soon' - from Robin Johnson on how HF and PIEs can best fit together, in research)

Further reading, listening and viewing

  • 1: On evaluation per se
    • PIE assessment - what is the point?  (PIELink page) :  HERE
    • Service evaluation by outcomes (PIELink page) : HERE
    • Evaluations of specific interventions (PIELink page) : HERE
    • Whole systems evaluation (PIELink page) : HERE
    • Formative vs summative evaluation (PIELink page) : HERE
    • Outcome and process assessments (PIELink page) : HERE

    2: On complex needs evaluation and research issues generally

    • Annie Danuco, on formative vs summative evaluation: HERE
    • Becky Rice and Juliette Howe on person-centred research for complex needs: HERE
    • Grant Everitt on the range and sheer complexity of data in work with complex needs: HERE
    • Stephanie Barker and Nick Maguire on the lack of studies researching peer support: HERE
    • Sophie Boobis on researchers learning from a dialogue with evolving practice (video): HERE
    • McDonald & Tomlin: on mindfulness evaluation with young people, with cautions over a premature preference for meta-analysis: HERE
    • Emma Belton: on the challenges in researching behaviour change in young people; and the search for alternative evaluation approaches: HERE
    • Mental Health Foundation: Progression Together, a report with honest comments on difficulties with evaluation studies: HERE
    • Robin Johnson: 'Do complex needs need complex needs services? (Pts 1&2):  HERE
    • Zack Ahmed on using Participatory Appraisal in involving users in local area needs research: HERE
    • Collaborate/Newcastle University Business School on complexity and a new paradigm HERE and (excepts): HERE
    • Sophie Boobis: Evaluation of a Dialogical Psychologically Informed Environment: HERE
    • Brett Grellier: report on a mindfulness programme in three homelessness hostels:  HERE
    • Sophie Boobis on evaluation of facilitated PIEs training: HERE
    • Robin Johnson (in conversation) on outcomes measurement: HERE


    3: On PIEs assessment specifically

    • The Pizazz as a research tool: HERE
    • The iAbacus team on the IAbacus process - developing the questions: HERE
    • 'Useful questions' the Pizazz process handbook: HERE
  • Robin Johnson (in conversation) on outcomes measurement: HERE


2: On PIEs assessment specifically

  • PIE assessment - what is the point?  (PIELink page) :  HERE
  • The Pizazz as a research tool: HERE
  • The iAbacus team on the IAbacus process - developing the questions: HERE
  • 'Useful questions' the Pizazz process handbook: HERE