Tackling health inequalities through partnership working: learning from a realistic evaluation

This paper, authored by David Evans and Amanda Killoran, reports on an evaluation of a program designed to test a variety of models aimed at tackling health inequality. Pawson and Tilley's 'realistic evaluation' was drawn on to frame the evaluation of the programme and case studies. 


"UK government health policy now strongly supports local partnership working as a key mechanism for tackling health inequalities. There is, however, still a lack of evidence based operational guidance for the development of local partnerships in tackling inequalities in health, as well as continuing evidence of the deep-rooted political, organizational and cultural barriers to partnership working. This paper reports on the evaluation of a two year Health Education Authority programme of demonstration projects designed to test different models of partnership working in tackling health inequalities. The evaluation drew on Pettigrew et al.’s (1992) concepts of receptive and non-receptive contexts for change as well as the ‘realistic evaluation’ of Pawson & Tilley (1997). Data were collected using a range of qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and non-participant observation. Six key themes were identified from the case studies: shared strategic vision, leadership and management, relations and local ownership, accountability, organizational readiness and responsiveness to a changing environment. The importance of understanding how project mechanisms worked in the context of national and local policy change is emphasized, and lessons are identified for UK Health Improvement Programmes, Health Action Zones and Primary Care Groups." (Evans & Killoran 2000)


Evans, D., & Killoran, A. (2000). Tackling health inequalities through partnership working: learning from a realistic evaluation. Critical Public Health,10(2), 125-140. doi: 10.1080/09581590050075899