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Unit information: Evaluation of Public Health Interventions in 2020/21

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Unit name Evaluation of Public Health Interventions
Unit code BRMSM0006
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Caldwell
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces the key concepts and principles of evaluation for public health interventions. It emphasises the importance of understanding complexity when designing study evaluations and that complexity may be a feature of the intervention as well as the context in which it is implemented. Students will be introduced to advanced randomised designs and alternative non-randomised study designs. All teaching and learning is research-led and will draw on the public health intervention expertise within the Department of Population Health Sciences. Learning is situated within the MRC framework for developing and evaluating complex interventions and MRC guidelines for conducting a process evaluation, whilst drawing on recent developments in systems thinking for public health improvement.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of frameworks for developing, evaluating and implementing complex public health interventions
  2. Demonstrate awareness of a systems perspective to evaluating public health interventions
  3. Apply understanding of the key steps for process evaluations as described in the MRC guidelines for process evaluations.
  4. Describe methods available to evaluate the effectiveness, implementation, acceptability and equity of public health interventions.
  5. Assess strengths and weaknesses of randomised and non-randomised study designs for evaluation of public health interventions.

Teaching Information

There will be 10 teaching weeks. Teaching will include learning activities set by the tutor including lectures (synchronous and asynchronous), small group work, discussions, individual tasks, and practical activities (face to face or online).

Directed and self-directed learning will include activities such as reading, accessing web-based supplementary materials, critical analysis and completion of assessments.

Assessment Information

Formative assessments to enable the ongoing learning of students will be built into all sessions and will include approaches such as the use of exercises, quizzes, feedback from discussion and strategic questioning.

The unit is assessed by a 2500-word project. Students will design an evaluation of a public health intervention (100% of unit mark) (ILOS 1-5).

Reading and References

Reading and References*

There is no essential course text for this unit.

Recommended reading:

  1. Medical Research Council (2006). Developing and evaluating complex interventions: new guidance. London: MRC.
  2. Moore GF, Audrey S, Barker M, et al. (2015) Process evaluation of complex interventions: Medical Research Council guidance. BMJ. 350:h1258. doi:10.1136/bmj.h1258.
  3. McLeroy KR, Bibeau D, Steckler A, Glanz K. (1988) An ecological perspective on health promotion programs. Health Education Quarterly. 15: 351-377.
  4. Pfadenhauer LM, Gerhardus A, Mozygemba K, et al (2017). Making sense of complexity in context and implementation: The Context and Implementation of Complex Interventions (CICI) framework. Implementation Science 12:21.

Further reading

  1. Richards DA and Hallberg IR (Eds) (2015) Complex Interventions in Health. Routledge.
  2. Lich KH, et al. (2014). System dynamics and community health in Methods for Community Public Health Research: Integrated and Engaged Approaches, Burke, JG & Albert, SM (eds). Springer.
  3. Marshall BDL, Paczkowski MM, Seemann L, et al. (2012) A Complex Systems Approach to Evaluate HIV Prevention in Metropolitan Areas: Preliminary Implications for Combination Intervention Strategies. PLOS ONE 7(9): e44833.
  4. Fredericks, KA., Deegan M, and Carman J.G. (2008) Using system dynamics as an evaluation tool: Experience from a demonstration program. American Journal of Evaluation 29.3: 251–267.
  5. Sussman, S et al. (2013) Comparing effects of tobacco use prevention modalities: need for complex system models. Tobacco Induced Diseases. 11:2