II VALUATING INTERVENTIONS: ATTENTION TO DESIGN
In Part II, we move on to examine considerations related to evaluating interventions. We highlight those issues critical to behavioral interventions. First, as the value and benefit of an intervention are typically established through comparison to other treatments, services, programs, or usual care, we begin by examining various control group options and the criteria for selecting a control group for an intervention trial (Chapter 8).
Then we examine sampling considerations and methodologies for identifying participants for behavioral intervention studies across various stages of the pipeline, including the beginning development phases and efficacy or effectiveness evaluations (Chapter 9). We then discuss one of the most challenging activities in behavioral intervention research across the pipeline, the recruitment and retention of study participants (Chapter 10).
Next, we discuss an emergent approach in evaluating behavioral intervention research—the use of mixed methodologies (Chapter 11). These design approaches, which have the potential of maximizing our understanding of underlying mechanisms as to why and how an intervention may work and for whom, will greatly facilitate implementation processes.
We then discuss, in Chapter 12, a frequently neglected consideration at each phase of the pipeline—fidelity, or whether an intervention is implemented as it is intended. Without an understanding of fidelity, we can have little confidence that any observed treatment effects are (or not) “real.”
Finally, as noted in Chapter 13, fundamental to the development and evaluation of behavioral interventions are ethical considerations.
The key “take home” points of Part II include the following:
- ? Selecting a control group is as important as designing the intervention as we learn about our interventions through a comparison to a control group or alternative treatment.
- ? Main considerations in selecting a study sample include the size of the sample and sample composition such that their characteristics should be copa- setic with the goals of the intervention and representative of a larger target population.
- ? Recruiting and retaining study participants are important elements of study design, which demand deliberate consideration, effort, and time.
- ? A range of designs is available for mixing and integrating both quantitative and qualitative perspectives in an intervention study to maximize understandings of treatment effects and processes—what works for whom and why.
- ? Attending to treatment fidelity helps to establish confidence in findings regarding the impact of the intervention on targeted outcomes.
- ? Research ethics are a critical consideration and form the foundation of all evaluative actions in behavioral intervention research.