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Evidence and evaluation resources

Commissioning decisions should be informed by the best available evidence. This helps to improve outcomes for patients and makes sure that scarce resources are used efficiently and effectively. Likewise, 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. Watch our short videos to learn more.

Watch our video: What is evaluation? 

Watch our video: What should I consider when planning an evaluation? 

Watch our video: Evaluation tools and resources


Evaluation Online Network

The Evaluation Online Network provides virtual support and guidance on evaluation activity. Find out more about the Evaluation Online Network.

The network is an initiative from the West of England Evaluation Strategy Group at NIHR ARC West, and is based on an email group system. Read more about NIHR ARC West here. 

Please contact for more information.

The Evidence Repository

This provides a portal for members to share grey literature not published anywhere else, including QI projects, evaluations, and evidence summaries, with colleagues within the NHS, Public Health, and Universities. The aim of the repository is to reduce unnecessary duplication and improve sharing across our health system. Find out more about the Evidence Repository here. 

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.

For further information and the full guidelines, please visit the NIHR ARC West website.

Other evidence and evaluation partners

Case studies and online toolkits

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Evaluation case studies

Our evaluation case studies illustrate how carrying out a service evaluation can positively influence an improvement project.

Read more
Evaluation Works

Evaluation Works toolkit

This online toolkit will help you to consider what works, what doesn’t work and how things can be improved.

Use the toolkit
Magnifying glass

Evidence case studies

These case studies illustrate how using an evidence-informed commissioning process can positively impact on health and care services.

Read more
Evidence Works

Evidence Works toolkit

This online toolkit is a complete guide to finding, appraising and applying evidence.

Use the toolkit



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