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Evaluation can help you to consider what works, what doesn’t work and how things can be improved.

What is evaluation?

Evaluation is about judging or comparing the merit or worth of something.

Evaluation can range from being very simple service evaluations to complex evaluative research projects. Each service will require a different approach depending on the purpose of the evaluation, evidence base, stage of development, context of the service, and the resources and timescales for the evaluation.

Evaluations can focus on implementation and learning (formative evaluation), how a service works (process evaluation) and whether it has worked (outcome or summative evaluation) – or all of these aspects over the life cycle of a project.


Evaluation Works Toolkit (

We have developed the Evaluation Works toolkit in partnership with the Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC) and CLAHRC West to support those involved in providing health and social care services as they plan to undertake new evaluation projects. It provides a simple step by step guide in the form of a 5-step cycle. This 5-Step approach provides a process guide for evaluation project planning that can be used across a diverse range of evaluation areas. The site also provides links to wider evaluation resources, example case studies and training and support.

See also the Evidence Works toolkit.

Case studies

We have worked with a range of people and organisations to gather case studies to demonstrate the positive effect that service evaluation and using evidence can have on commissioning decision-making. Read the case studies.

Evaluation online network

The Evaluation Online Network provides virtual support and guidance on evaluation activity. It’s an initiative from the West of England Evaluation Strategy Group at NIHR CLAHRC West, and is based on an email group system. Find out more here or to join the network, contact Jo Bangoura on

Best practice guidelines

The West of England Evaluation Strategy Group have also developed two sets of best practice guidance on ethics and governance of service evaluation and patient and public involvement (PPI) in evaluation. This guidance is aimed at anyone conducting service evaluations in health and social care.

Download the summary guidelines:

For further information and the full guidelines visit the CLAHRC West website.


Further evaluation support