Partnership approaches to the evaluation of complex policy initiatives: qualitative research as key to building effective relationships

Fiona Turner-Halliday (Corresponding Author), Vicki Welch, Graham Bryce, Matt Forde, Richard Cotmore, Phil Wilson, Bridie Fitzpatrick, Nicholas Watson, Helen Minnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We argue that major health and social care policy initiatives are not too complex for randomised controlled trial (RCT) methodology and illustrate this using the example of the Best Services Trial (BeST?): a RCT of an infant mental health intervention for maltreated children. We suggest that qualitative research, as a core part of the trial process from conception and development through to implementation and evaluation, is crucial in building, understanding and strengthening the partnership required to drive such a complex trial. Data pertinent to trial implementation demonstrate the iterative nature of the process whereby stakeholders are consulted and their views influence the conduct of the trial. Here we reflect on the bi‐directional relationship between qualitative data collection and partnership‐working in a trial. For very complex trials to be possible, significant resource needs to be available for the qualitative component.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-387
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Social Welfare
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018



  • partnership
  • complex interventions
  • randomised controlled trial
  • qualitative research
  • maltreated children

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