Developing the protocol for the evaluation of the health foundation's 'engaging with quality initiative' – an emergent approach
1 Health Economics Research Group, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH, UK
2 ECORYS NL, P.O. Box 4175, 3000 AD Rotterdam, the Netherlands
3 RAND Europe, Westbrook Centre, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 1YG, UK
4 School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK
5 NHS Norfolk, Lakeside 400, Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, NR7 0WG, UK
Implementation Science 2008, 3:46 doi:10.1186/1748-5908-3-46Published: 30 October 2008
In 2004 a UK charity, The Health Foundation, established the 'Engaging with Quality Initiative' to explore and evaluate the benefits of engaging clinicians in quality improvement in healthcare. Eight projects run by professional bodies or specialist societies were commissioned in various areas of acute care. A developmental approach to the initiative was adopted, accompanied by a two level evaluation: eight project self-evaluations and a related external evaluation. This paper describes how the protocol for the external evaluation was developed. The challenges faced included large variation between and within the projects (in approach, scope and context, and in understanding of quality improvement), the need to support the project teams in their self-evaluations while retaining a necessary objectivity, and the difficulty of evaluating the moving target created by the developmental approach adopted in the initiative. An initial period to develop the evaluation protocol proved invaluable in helping us to explore these issues.