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Learning from a successful process evaluation in care homes

Allen, Frances; Darby, Janet; Cook, Marie; Evley, Rachel; Godfrey, Maureen; Horne, Jane; Leighton, Paul; Logan, Pip; Robinson, Katie

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Marie Cook

Rachel Evley

Maureen Godfrey

Jane Horne

Associate Professor of Applied Health Services Research

Professor of Rehabilitation Research

Principal Research Fellow


process evaluations (PE) are increasingly used in parallel with randomised controlled trials (RCT) to inform the implementation of complex health interventions. This paper explores the learning accrued from conducting a PE within the Falls in Care Homes Study (FinCH), a large UK RCT.

in the FinCH study, six purposively sampled care homes provided data for the PE, which followed a realist approach. In this study researchers kept written diaries of their experiences in completing the interviews, focus groups and observations. We have reflected on these and present the main themes for discussion.

care home staff were enthusiastic to participate in the PE but researchers found it difficult to collect data due to staff not having time to take part, environmental factors such as no space for focus groups and low levels of research understanding. Researchers found that the expectations of the PE protocol were often unrealistic due to these limitations. Flexible and pragmatic approaches such as interviews in place of focus groups enabled data collection but required a reduced sample size and length of data collection to be accepted by researchers.

to enable care home staff to participate in successful PEs, researchers should build flexibility into research schedules, spend time building trust, collaborate with all levels of care home staff prior to data collection, increase research capacity in care home staff and co-design research projects.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 14, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 24, 2021
Publication Date 2021-09
Deposit Date Jul 13, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 25, 2022
Journal Age and Ageing
Print ISSN 0002-0729
Electronic ISSN 1468-2834
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 50
Issue 5
Pages 1850-1853
Keywords Ageing; Geriatrics and Gerontology; General Medicine;care homes, process evaluation, interviews, focus groups, older people
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