Interventions to improve child and adolescent health typically take place in highly complex social systems, such as schools, social care systems or neighbourhoods. Developing evidence and theory informed interventions within these complex systems, evaluating how these affect the lives of children and young people, and understanding how findings from evaluation can be replicated in routine practice, can be highly challenging.
The DECIPHer methodology programme focuses on developing methodological guidance, and advancing methodological innovation, for the development, evaluation and implementation of interventions to improve health and wellbeing. DECIPHer has a long-standing track record as a world-leader in methodological guidance and innovation including development of methods guidance on process evaluation, discussion pieces on complex systems intervention science and use of routine data within trials and natural experiments, and case studies of methodological innovation including a framework for co-producing and prototyping interventions.
The programme aims are achieved through four primary mechanisms:
1. “Methods” research, including Medical Research Council funded studies focused on the development of methodological guidance;
2. Case studies of methodological innovation within intervention studies, including development studies, natural experimental evaluations using routine data, randomised controlled trials and implementation research;
3. Publication of editorials and methodological ‘think-pieces’ to generate discussion around ways forward for intervention research;
4. A programme of internationally recognised methodology short course teaching delivered to researchers, practitioners and policy makers.
While child and adolescent health is the core focus of DECIPHer, the programme generates guidance and innovation with broad applicability to intervention in other populations and settings. Current and future areas of research within this programme include development of guidance for adapting complex interventions to new contexts and methods for public involvement and case studies of methodological innovation in implementation science, systems science and the use of routine data.
DECIPHer-adopted projects in Methodological Innovation in Public Health Intervention Science:
Does local authority care make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children? Longitudinal analyses of a retrospective electronic cohort
Inequalities in smoking and the variation of school-based social diffusion processes
THE ADAPT STUDY
The SAMA project (School-based Adolescent Mental Health Intervention Adaptation)