Developing Realist Economic Evaluation Methods (REEM) and Guidance to Evaluate the Effectiveness, Costs, and Benefits of Complex Interventions

Project Details


When people get sick or injured, or need help to live at home or to take part in the community, services like hospitals, health centres and social services are there to help them. Different treatments and services work for different people. Some kinds of research help to work out what works best for different people in different situations. Research can also help to work out which services provide the best value for money - which might be different for different people.
The information from research helps politicians and government departments to make good decisions about what services should be funded. It also helps service providers (doctors, nurses, social workers and so on) to work out exactly what services and treatments should be provided for different people.
Providing the right services to the right people leads to better outcomes. At the same time, it makes better use of funding for health and social care.
Evaluation is one type of research. Until now, two different kinds of evaluation have been used to look at ‘what works for whom’, and what provide the best value for money. Realist evaluation tries to understand what works for which people, in what circumstances, exactly how it works and why it doesn’t work for other people. Economic evaluation tries to understand the costs and the benefits of services, in
financial terms. This research project wants to work out how to bring the two types of evaluation together. Combining them will help researchers to work out what works, for whom, in what circumstances, at what cost, and with what benefits. Combined, the methods will be called Realist Economic Evaluation Methods (REEM). The project will also develop advice (called ‘guidance materials’) on how to use the methods.
How will we do this?
The project will be conducted in three phases. The first phase will review existing evidence about the problems in bringing the two kinds of evaluation together, and what has been learned from previous attempts to do so. The findings will be provided to groups of experts from different countries. Together, they will work out how to bring the two types of evaluation together, what research methods could be
used, and how to use them. This stage will provide draft guidance materials.
The second phase will trial the combined methods in three small evaluation studies. The aim is to test the methods and refine how to use them in practice. We want to work out their strengths and weaknesses, and the value of using them. Service staff, patients and the public will be involved in each of the studies.
The third phase will bring together the lessons from the studies. We will bring the experts together again to reach agreement about what has been learned and what that means for how to use REEM in future.
We will revise the draft guidance materials. The guidance will be shared with other researchers and evaluators, the organisations that fund research, and decision-makers in health and social care and in government departments.
Why should we do this?
We believe that REEM will help provide better information for decision-makers. This is important because health and social services are expensive and there is never enough money to pay for everything.
Short titleDeveloping Realist Economic Evaluation Methods
StatusNot started

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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