How to define service* evaluations
Your study is a service evaluation if you want to evaluate or assess some part of a local healthcare service, with the view of improving the service based on the evidence that you collect. Results from your evaluation will only feed back into this particular service, they will not apply to patients, or services, across the country. Any method can be used to evaluate a service (retrospective patient notes review, patient survey, staff survey, interview), but it will still be service evaluation if results are purely used to inform future planning of the service. This may also be called a “quality improvement project”.
*this category also applies for curriculum evaluations, where a new educational initiative is being assessed.
DOWNLOAD THE DETERMINING SERVICE EVALUATION FROM RESEARCH FLOWCHART >
For example, you want to see if outcomes within your dermatology service are better for patients who get Test X within two weeks of referral for a suspicious skin lesion. If they were better, you might try to redesign the service so more, or all, patients get the test within the two weeks.
Service Evaluations do not usually need ethical review. However, you can ask the BSMS Research Governance and Ethics Committee (RGEC) to review your service evaluation if:
i) You intend to publish in a journal. Many journals now require evidence of ethical review for audit/service evaluation/improvement studies and review via the RGEC will cover researchers intending to pursue publication.
ii) A vulnerable population, medical students, or sensitive topics will be involved.
Read more on our RGEC page >
Most NHS Trusts want to keep a record of any service evaluations so these should be registered with Trust R&D departments. An employee of the trust should be the one to make this registration.
*this category also applies for curriculum evaluations, where a new educational initiative is being assessed, and results are being fed back into improvements in curriculum design only.