Exploratory studies to inform full-scale evaluations of complex public health interventions: the need for guidance

Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health
October 2018 – Volume 72 – 10
http://jech.bmj.com/content/current

Editorial
Exploratory studies to inform full-scale evaluations of complex public health interventions: the need for guidance (11 September, 2018)
Laurence Moore, Britt Hallingberg, Daniel Wight, Ruth Turley, Jeremy Segrott, Peter Craig, Michael Robling, Simon Murphy, Sharon Anne Simpson, Graham Moore
Addressing complex public health problems, such as smoking, obesity and mental health, requires complex, often multilevel, interventions. Given the costs associated with delivering such interventions and the possibility of unanticipated harm, they need to be evaluated using the most robust methods available. It is important, where possible, that public health interventions and their proposed evaluation designs are optimised prior to being subject to an expensive evaluation of their effectiveness, through rigorous assessment of their feasibility.1 Consequently, a growing number of exploratory studies (ie, studies intended to generate the evidence needed to decide whether and how to proceed with a full-scale evaluation, also (inconsistently) referred to as ‘pilot’ or ‘feasibility’ studies) are being conducted…