Growing interest in integrating Process Evaluations into intervention research

Over the last few months, LSHTM collaborating partners have approached the Centre for Evaluation, seeking practical, applied training for their local staff on the aims, principles and methods of rigorous process evaluations. At the African Health Research Institute in Mtubatuba, a 2-day workshop provided AHRI staff involved in outcome evaluations of new interventions with an opportunity to design a process evaluation framework, learning from “real life” examples from Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

Working in small groups based on existing AHRI research teams, participants first visually depicted the logic models guiding their interventions from inputs and activities, through outputs, intermediate outcomes, and eventual intended effects. They identified key assumptions underpinning their “pathway to change” and discussed various mechanisms of action and contextual influences on these. On Day 2, groups moved toward defining indicators for key aspects of a process evaluation, including fidelity, feasibility, acceptability, and unintended effects and selected appropriate tools to capture these measures, using both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

Final study designs were presented to the whole group, and other teams had to ask at least 2 critical questions each to help refine each other’s process evaluations. Some comments from feedback on the workshop included “This was very useful and relevant to my work” and “Learning using our personal experiences and the work we are currently doing made it easy and interesting to learn of process evaluation.”

The following week saw the annual scientific meeting of the AMARI (Africa Mental Health Research Initiative) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. AMARI is a capacity-strengthening network, bringing scholars together from Ethiopia, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe to build research excellence in global mental health. Joanna gave a very pared-down version of the process evaluation workshop, closing the meeting with “5 reasons to integrate process evaluations into intervention research.”

The Centre for Evaluation is happy to support LSHTM staff and partners in conducting these kinds of workshops and skills-building sessions – we have everything you need to conduct a 1- or 2-day workshop, including powerpoint presentations, group work activities, and even sample case studies if you’re training a group without shared research activities. All materials can be adapted to suit your needs – please get in touch!