Evaluating the Research
Prof. Shula Ramon
This part of the project was conducted by Prof. Shula Ramon (University of Hertfordshire, an experienced mental health researcher who works with service users as co-researchers) and Dr. Jan Wallcraft (expert by experience).
Given that this project was an emancipatory action research, the usual before and after an intervention evaluation design did not seem to be best suited, as it would not provide information concerning processes of innovative change and of empowerment during the lifetime of the project. Capturing these processes and their impact is a key component of both understanding how innovative change and empowerment are working, and of ensuring that indeed they would be implemented properly in the project.
Instead, we opted for a more frequent evaluation of the core activities of the project during its three distinctive phases, from the perspectives of its key contributors: members of the steering group who included qualified researchers alongside people who use mental health services and carers, participants in the research training for those wishing to be involved as interviewers, the project principal investigator and its research officer, and the participants in the project’s dissemination events. Questions focused on expectations, concerns, content and format of new learning and tasks, whether expectations were met, future expectations from the project, necessary support, and achievements.
Thus the external evaluation was aimed at providing periodical feedback concerning:
1. the steering group functioning and satisfaction,
2. the views of the participants in the initial research training provided to service users and carers,
3. dissemination events participants’ views concerning the content and format of these events, and suggestions for the future.
For a summary of the findings from the evaluation.
For some tips on how to conduct an evaluation like this.