Assessment and Evaluation of Health and Medical Care: A Methods Text

Assessment and Evaluation of Health and Medical Care: A Methods Text

Assessment and Evaluation of Health and Medical Care: A Methods Text

Assessment and Evaluation of Health and Medical Care: A Methods Text

Synopsis

A comprehensive methods text describing the variety of approaches available in the assessment and evaluation of health and medical care. The text not only describes the principles of randomized controlled trials, case control studies, cohort studies and social surveys but also the value of qualitative methods in gaining an understanding of healthcare. Chapters are also included on the principles and problems of measuring outcomes in terms of patient satisfaction and quality of life, and assessing the economic value of treatments. The specific methodological problems of screening are discussed, and a final chapter outlines the issues surrounding meta-analysis and systematic reviews.

Excerpt

The twentieth century has seen a phenomenal growth in research into health and health care. New medical treatments have been developed at a rate that was inconceivable in previous centuries, and the number and availability of medical facilities, physicians and professionals allied to medicine has grown exponentially. However, despite all of this, evaluation of the efficacy of treatments remains an area of considerable debate. Historically, evaluation relied for the most part upon the intuition and subjective assessments of health professionals who, it was assumed, were capable of assessing the intended objectives and success of treatment. Often such assessments were based on personal experience and clinical anecdotes (Holland 1983). This traditional, and rather unscientific, manner of evaluation has fallen from favour with many who believe that rigorous research is required to ascertain the effectiveness of treatments. Important factors that have stimulated the move towards such evaluation have been the fear that many procedures are of no benefit, and may even be harmful, and the growing awareness that resources are limited and that provision of health care must be made within financial constraints. Consequently, evaluation should determine which treatments work and which should be provided. However, there is no one simple way to evaluate health and medical treatments. the purpose of this book is to provide a critical introduction to the most commonly used forms of evaluation used by health services researchers and epidemiologists. It documents a number of quite distinct research methodologies, providing examples of their application, and is intended to give the reader a sense of the variety of methods at the disposal of researchers and the pros and cons of these different approaches.

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