Do health improvement programmes fit with MRC guidance on evaluating complex interventions?

This article, authored by MacKenzie, O'Donnell,  Halliday, E. and Sridharan for the University of Glasgow, argue that randomised control trials are not always practical for the evaluation of new health policy and programs.


"Pawson and Tilley have argued strongly that treating complex programmes as single interventions is misguided and that the randomised controlled design is not appropriate for answering pertinent questions about what works for whom in what circumstances. Hawe and Shiell, although advocating the judicious use of controlled designs, have argued that the MRC guidance does not acknowledge the unpredictability of organisational systems into which interventions are introduced. They suggest that, rather than viewing interventions as discrete packages, they should be viewed as "events in systems." We use the example of Keep Well (the Scottish government’s major investment in cardiovascular anticipatory care) to show the problems of implementing the MRC recommendations for national policy initiatives." (MacKenzie, O'Donnell,  Halliday, E. & Sridharan 2010)


MacKenzie, M., O'Donnell, C.,  Halliday, E.,  Sridharan, S. and Platt, S. (2010) Do health improvement programmes fit with MRC guidance on evaluating complex interventions? Retrieved from: