Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Research designs for studies evaluating the effectiveness of change and improvement strategies


The methods of evaluating change and improvement strategies are not well described. The design and conduct of a range of experimental and non-experimental quantitative designs are considered. Such study designs should usually be used in a context where they build on appropriate theoretical, qualitative and modelling work, particularly in the development of appropriate interventions. A range of experimental designs are discussed including single and multiple arm randomised controlled trials and the use of more complex factorial and block designs. The impact of randomisation at both group and individual levels and three non-experimental designs (uncontrolled before and after, controlled before and after, and time series analysis) are also considered. The design chosen will reflect both the needs (and resources) in any particular circumstances and also the purpose of the evaluation. The general principle underlying the choice of evaluative design is, however, simple—those conducting such evaluations should use the most robust design possible to minimise bias and maximise generalisability.

  • quality improvement research
  • clinical trial design

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.