Towards collaborative evaluation – a framework for practice

This section draws on a set of constitutional foundations (Aveling et al 2014).  They emphasise a shared, overarching goal, safer healthcare for patients and commits all parties to adherence to this principle in all their interactions. Together this provides a basis from which to address misconceptions around evaluation and collaborative working.

Each step of building the relationship aims to set clear expectations from the beginning of it. This is detailed below.

Goals and values

Outlining the partners and their commitment to the programme goal, shared learning, respect for dignity and integrity and open dialogue

Responsibilities of the evaluation team

Summarising the purpose of the evaluation, making a commitment to accuracy in representation and reporting and seeking to minimise the burden on partners.

Responsibilities of the support team

A synopsis of the remit of one partner’s role in relation to the evaluation team and their agreed interaction.

Responsibilities of participating sites

Outlining how the sites will facilitate access to data for the evaluation team

Data collection

Agreeing steps to minimise the burden of data collection on all partners and to share data as appropriate

Ethical issues

Summarising issues about confidentiality, data security and working within appropriate ethical and governance frameworks


Confirming a commitment to timely publication of findings, paying particular attention to the possibility of negative or critical findings


Outlining how formative feedback should be provided, received and actioned by appropriate partners

This framework, which is extracted from earlier work of Mary Dixon-Woods - see Brewster, L et al. BMJ Qual Saf 2015;0:1-7.doi.10.1136/bmjqs-2014-003732 could offer a basis for discussion and development.

Despite the potential benefits of such efforts, and the welcome given to evaluation by some who run programmes, the literature on programme evaluation has long acknowledged that evaluation can be a source of tension, friction and confusion of purpose: Evaluation involves a balancing act between competing issues and priorities. Paramount among these is the inherent conflict between the requirements of systematic inquiry - data collection associated with evaluation / research, and the organisational imperatives of a social program devoted to delivering services and maintaining essential routine activity.