London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Professor Mark Petticrew
There has been a growing awareness over the past decade of the need to foster more evaluative public health research, particularly collaborations between academics and local government, as a means to develop the evidence-base for public health and health inequalities. This has involved a range of initiatives, including the NIHR Public Health Research programme, and the Public Health Practice Evaluation Scheme (PHPES) as part of the NIHR School for Public Health Research. More recently, the NIHR Public Health Intervention Responsive Studies Teams (PHIRST) scheme has been established to enable local government (LG) to rapidly evaluate their interventions seeking to improve health and tackle health inequalities in their areas. Academic teams appointed by NIHR work closely with local government to co-create an evaluation undertaken by the PHIRST teams and funded by the NIHR.
Our project is undertaken as a PH-PRU ‘Responsive’ project to evaluate the initial phase of the PHIRST scheme and to make recommendations for its development. Our aim is to conduct a light-touch assessment of the scheme, similar to a formative evaluation, and to capture learning around what processes appear to work. Our objectives are to:
- To evaluate the initial phase of the PHIRST scheme to capture learning around what worked and what did not.
- Make recommendations on the further development of the PHIRST scheme.
This is a qualitative study based on 25 semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with academic team members, LG respondents, NIHR staff and PPI participants, as well as a scoping review of relevant policy documents. A topic guide covers themes including: setting up of PHIRST teams and establishing relationships with local government; barriers and facilitators of co-production and rapid response evaluations as well as impacts of the scheme. A theory of change will be developed based on the background documents and interviews.
Kiran Nanchahal and Suzanne Taylor