In the context of health & social care and community care in the UK, it is important to clearly distinguish evaluation from research because both types of activities are subject to different types of governance. Whilst research studies need to be approved by the NHS Health Research Authority (HRA) and the host organisation (i.e. MPFT Research & Innovation), there is no mandatory governance framework for evaluation studies.

For information on MPFT’s research governance processes, please visit our Research Support Services page.

Evaluation is a broad concept. The HRA refers to service evaluation and the definition provided is relatively narrow:

Service evaluation is designed and conducted solely to define or judge current care and should answer the question: "What standard does this service achieve?"

In practice, evaluation encompasses a much broader range of aims and activities. This is reflected in the definition used by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its Evaluation Practice Book:

An evaluation is an assessment, as systematic and impartial as possible, of an activity, project, programme, strategy, policy, topic, theme, sector, operational area, institutional performance. (UNEG, 2012)

The HRA definition focusses on measuring outcomes (i.e. summative evaluation) but omits the other key purpose of evaluation, which is to help us to develop a better understanding of how best to improve services and health care (i.e. formative evaluation).

The role of evaluation is understood as an opportunity for organizational and individual learning, improving performance and accountability for results, and build our capacity for understanding why some programmes and initiatives work, and why others do not. (WHO, 2013)

If you need help to determine the status of a study or project, you can refer to the HRA decision tool or contact us directly for advice on


Evaluation register

The R&I department maintains a register of evaluation projects within the Trust. Registering evaluation projects is:

  • Mandatory when undertaken by anyone who is not currently employed or registered as a volunteer in the Trust (this includes university students, colleagues working in other NHS, academic, commercial and voluntary organisations)
  • Strongly recommended when undertaken by Trust employees or Trust registered volunteers.


Why register?

  • We will ensure that your project meets the evaluation definition (reducing the risk of inadvertently undertaking a research project without appropriate governance)
  • We can provide peer review and advice on a range of issues (study design, methods, analysis etc.)
  • We can offer direct support depending on capacity available at the time.
  • Before considering articles for publication, most peer reviewed journals request confirmation that projects have received approval from an appropriate ethics committee or that approval is not needed.


Please complete and return the following form to if:

  • You would like to register an evaluation project with the Trust
  • You require advice or support from R&I for an evaluation project.

01e Eval Contact ext.docx

If you are not a Trust employees or Trust registered volunteer, please complete the following form:

01i  Eval_outline_intern.docx


How can we help?

We aim to promote evaluation and research activities by developing capacity and expertise amongst staff. Our capacity is relatively limited and we are usually unable to manage evaluation projects on behalf of staff or services.

We recognise that some projects require a level of impartiality / independence that cannot be provided by staff who are involved with project delivery; we aim to support those projects directly when necessary by undertaking interviews or focus groups for instance or collating and analysing data independently and confidentially.

We regularly give advice and support with the following activities:

  • Background research (e.g. literature review)
  • Defining project requirements and identifying potential outcomes
  • Identifying existing or developing specific instruments (e.g. standardised scales, questionnaires, interview schedules)
  • Data collection (e.g. interviews, focus groups, surveys, performance indicators)
  • Selecting and designing appropriate format for data storage and retrieval (e.g. Excel, SPSS, NVivo databases)
  • Data presentation and analysis (both quantitative and qualitative)
  • Report writing, publication and other dissemination approaches
  • In any case, we highly recommend that you approach us and seek advice and support at the earliest opportunity.