Principles of Pragmatic Evaluation event

How can we meet the call for more appropriate and robust evaluation? How do we generate more rigorous and relevant evidence?

These were some of the questions explored by more than 30 people with an interest in evaluation, including commissioners, researchers and the public, at the Principles of Pragmatic Evaluation workshop on Wednesday 16 December 2015 organised by the West of England Evaluation Strategy Group.

The West of England Evaluation Strategy Group led this event, from which an action plan to support evaluation activity was developed. The group, which disbanded in 2017 having achieved its work plan, was supported by NIHR CLAHRC West. It aimed to create a culture of evaluation in health and care across the west. Its members included NHS organisations, the West of England Academic Health Science Network, Bristol Health Partners, the Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative, local universities and two public contributors.

The interactive workshop explored the principles of pragmatic evaluation, and was led by Dr Peter Brindle, Leader for Commissioning Evidence Informed Care at the West of England Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and Evaluation Lead at the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (NIHR CLAHRC West). It was jointly organised by CLAHRC West, the West of England AHSN, Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC) and Bristol Health Partners.

Before the event, attendees were provided with:


On the day, delegate packs included the following additional documents:

Round table discussions on the following topics:

  1. How do we best involve patients, carers and the public in evaluation?
  2. How do we ensure that evaluation is of value to health and social care?
  3. How do we build a culture of evaluation?
  4. How do we create an ethical approach to evaluation?
  5. How do we make the trade-off between rigor and relevance?

These table sessions inspired a broad range of discussions and reflections as well as a chance to share good practice and innovative ideas and solutions. These sessions were fed back to the room for further discussion. Themes emerging included the need for:

  • genuine and early co-production in evaluation
  • good early evaluation planning with all the right stakeholders and information
  • development of capacity, skills and understanding of evaluation
  • both rigorous and relevant evaluations


The final step involved participants making a commitment to action as a result of the workshop discussions, whether something they personally intended to do or that they would take back to their organisation. Examples include:

I am going to “lobby for equal status of evaluation and research”

I am going to “ensure evaluation is embedded in transformation at the outset”

I am going to develop a “key guidance sheet”

Dr Peter Brindle said:

“I feel that the event has helped to create an energetic and supportive community of action in the West of England, to overcome the barriers to integrating evaluation into service change and innovation.”

Who attended?

Breakdown of attendees at POPE event