Wednesday 27 October 2010, 12.30 – 2pm
Theatre D010, Ebsworth Building, Durham University
Queen’s Campus, Stockton-on-Tees TS17 6BH

Professor David Dunt is the Founding Director of the Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics at the Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Complex social interventions aimed at improving community health pose particular design and methodological challenges for the researcher and evaluator. Randomised control trials can only sometimes be used and a search must be made for alternative robust methodologies. Mixed methods combining quasi-experiments, user surveys, document review, stakeholder feedback and other qualitative approaches are likely to be necessary.

More generally the paradigms of the evidence-based movement that focus principally on outcomes are necessary but not sufficient for comprehensive program review. Other approaches include program logic/program theory which focuses on the level of success of the design and implementation of the program. They also include realist evaluation approaches which focus on mechanism (initial and emergent design features) and the impact of context on the local delivery of program.

These challenges will be illustrated in a number of complex social interventions evaluated by the speaker. These include the VicHealth’s Community Arts and Health Project, the Australian Government’s National Dementia Initiative as well as its Out-of-hours GP and Primary Medical Care Initiative and finally, the Victorian Government’s Best Start Project of Early Childhood Development in Disadvantaged Communities.

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