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It is increasingly argued that the effectiveness of health promotion interventions should be measured to inform policy and practice. The randomized controlled trial (RCT) continues to be regarded as the 'gold standard' of health services research but health promotion practitioners have raised concerns about the RCT's appropriateness for evaluating their work. A preferred model is currently the pragmatic trial, measuring effectiveness under 'routine' conditions, incorporating a process evaluation to examine context, implementation and receipt. This model was chosen by A Stop Smoking in Schools Trial (ASSIST) to evaluate an intervention in which influential Year 8 students (12-13 years old) were trained to encourage non-smoking behaviour through informal conversations with their peers. Outcome data show that the intervention was effective in reducing smoking levels in intervention schools compared with control schools. In this paper we describe the extensive process evaluation embedded within the trial and, rather than focusing on resultant data, we consider the potential for such detailed examination of process to affect the intervention's delivery, receipt and outcome evaluation. We describe how some acknowledged challenges were addressed within ASSIST, which have relevance for future similar trials: Hawthorne effects, overlapping roles within the team and distinguishing between the intervention and its evaluation.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/her/cyl029

Type

Journal article

Journal

Health Educ Res

Publication Date

06/2006

Volume

21

Pages

366 - 377

Keywords

Adolescent, Child, England, Health Promotion, Humans, Program Evaluation, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Schools, Smoking, Wales