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The trials and tribulations of Realising Ambition: sixth Programme Insight launched

This Realising Ambition briefing considers randomised controlled trials in the real world.

17 January 2017

Realising Ambition has launched its sixth Programme Insight, one of a series of short briefings sharing key learning from the programme.

Titled The trials and tribulations of Realising Ambition, the Insight considers the process of conducting real-world randomised controlled trials (RCTs), how they are delivered and how their results can be used.

The Insight is informed by the three Realising Ambition RCTs, which are evaluating interventions delivered by Chance UK, Malachi and Ariel Trust. It highlights the challenges encountered and how Realising Ambition’s evaluators and the respective organisations sought to address them. In doing so, Programme Insight 6 presents lessons for funders, researchers and intervention developers and providers.

Key learning points include:

  • the benefits of doing an RCT may lie as much in the refinements made to the intervention as in the end results
  • all involved in an RCT need to think on their feet. It is necessary to consider unexpected problems, work out solutions collaboratively and update the trial protocol accordingly
  • securing organisational buy-in to a trial requires understanding an organisation’s culture, processes and structure
  • the method of evaluation needs to be aligned to the stage of intervention development. Failure to achieve a suitable alignment can mean a lot of wasted time and also risk setting up fledgling interventions to fail
  • in a trial, the services received by the control group affect the results as much as the intervention being tested.

This briefing builds on previous Insights which explore topics ranging from the value of replication to organisational readiness to replicate.

Realising Ambition is a £25million Big Lottery Fund programme supporting 22 organisations across the UK to replicate services that help young people to avoid pathways into offending. Our Insights are designed to support anyone undertaking or commissioning services with a focus on replication and evidence.

Further information