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1.  Process evaluation design in a cluster randomised controlled childhood obesity prevention trial: the WAVES study 
The implementation of a complex intervention is heavily influenced by individual context. Variation in implementation and tailoring of the intervention to the particular context will occur, even in a trial setting. It is recognised that in trials, evaluating the process of implementation of a complex intervention is important, yet process evaluation methods are rarely reported. The WAVES study is a cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of an obesity prevention intervention programme targeting children aged 6–7 years, delivered by teachers in primary schools across the West Midlands, UK. The intervention promoted activities encouraging physical activity and healthy eating. This paper presents the methods used to assess implementation of the intervention.
Previous literature was used to identify the dimensions of intervention process and implementation to be assessed, including adherence, exposure, quality of delivery, participant responsiveness, context, and programme differentiation.
Multiple methods and tools were developed to capture information on all these dimensions. These included observations, logbooks, qualitative evaluation, questionnaires and research team reflection.
Data collection posed several challenges, predominantly when relying on teachers to complete paperwork, which they saw as burdensome on top of their teaching responsibilities. However, the use of multiple methods helped to ensure data on each dimension, where possible, was collected using more than one method. This also allowed for triangulation of the findings when several data sources on any one dimension were available.
We have reported a comprehensive approach to the assessment of the implementation and processes of a complex childhood obesity prevention intervention within a cluster randomised controlled trial. These approaches can be transferred and adapted for use in other complex intervention trials.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC4172839  PMID: 25212062
Cluster randomised controlled trial; Intervention; Childhood obesity prevention; Process evaluation; Implementation fidelity
2.  Preventing childhood obesity, phase II feasibility study focusing on South Asians: BEACHeS 
BMJ Open  2014;4(4):e004579.
To assess feasibility and acceptability of a multifaceted, culturally appropriate intervention for preventing obesity in South Asian children, and to obtain data to inform sample size for a definitive trial.
Phase II feasibility study of a complex intervention.
8 primary schools in inner city Birmingham, UK, within populations that are predominantly South Asian.
1090 children aged 6–8 years took part in the intervention. 571 (85.9% from South Asian background) underwent baseline measures. 85.5% (n=488) were followed up 2 years later.
The 1-year intervention consisted of school-based and family-based activities, targeting dietary and physical activity behaviours. The intervention was modified and refined throughout the period of delivery.
Main outcome measures
Acceptability and feasibility of the intervention and of measurements required to assess outcomes in a definitive trial. The difference in body mass index (BMI) z-score between arms was used to inform sample size calculations for a definitive trial.
Some intervention components (increasing school physical activity opportunities, family cooking skills workshops, signposting of local leisure facilities and attending day event at a football club) were feasible and acceptable. Other components were acceptable, but not feasible. Promoting walking groups was neither acceptable nor feasible. At follow-up, children in the intervention compared with the control group were less likely to be obese (OR 0.41; 0.19 to 0.89), and had lower adjusted BMI z-score (−0.15 kg/m2; 95% CI −0.27 to −0.03).
The feasibility study informed components for an intervention programme. The favourable direction of outcome for weight status in the intervention group supports the need for a definitive trial. A cluster randomised controlled trial is now underway to assess the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the intervention.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC3987740  PMID: 24722198
Obesity; Children; Prevention
3.  Development of a childhood obesity prevention programme with a focus on UK South Asian communities☆ 
Preventive Medicine  2013;57(6):948-954.
We report the development of a childhood obesity prevention intervention for UK South Asian primary school-aged children, guided by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) framework for complex intervention development and evaluation.
We combined information gained from a literature review, stakeholder focus groups, an expert group, review of local resources and mapping to the Analysis Grid for Environments Linked to Obesity (ANGELO framework) in an intervention development process. The study took place in 2007 in Birmingham, UK.
Contextual information from the stakeholder focus groups was essential for informing intervention development. The expert group defined guiding principles for the intervention. Informing intervention design by assessing existing local resources addressed intervention sustainability. The use of the ANGELO framework ensured a comprehensive environmental approach to intervention development. The intervention consisted of two broad processes; increasing children's physical activity levels through school, and increasing skills of families through activity-based learning. The developed intervention is being evaluated in a major study.
The intervention development process has resulted in a tailored intervention programme to prevent childhood obesity in UK South Asian communities, but also intervention processes that could be applied to other communities and tailored to local context.
•We describe the process of development of a childhood obesity prevention programme.•We combined findings from multiple methods in an iterative process of development.•Childhood obesity prevention interventions need to be tailored to the local context.•Understanding the local context is critical for intervention tailoring.
PMCID: PMC3842497  PMID: 24012821
UK; South Asian; Child; Obesity; Prevention
4.  Contextual influences on the development of obesity in children: A case study of UK South Asian communities☆ 
Preventive Medicine  2012;54(3-4):205-211.
An advocated approach to childhood obesity prevention research is the use of local community knowledge to inform intervention development. This paper demonstrates the value of accessing such local knowledge, and discusses how this information fits with existing conceptual models of childhood obesity.
A series of 9 focus groups were run in 2007 with 68 local community stakeholders (including parents, school staff, community leaders and health and local government representatives) from 8 South Asian communities in Birmingham, UK to explore perceptions of factors contributing to the development of childhood obesity.
Perceptions of causal influences were grouped into several contexts, from the individual to the macro-level, that influence diet and physical activity. Specific cultural contextual data emerged that may explain decisions around physical activity and food intake of children within these communities. Assumptions made about South Asian communities were frequently contested.
In order to truly understand the contextual influences on childhood obesity in target communities, it is necessary to access knowledge from local community members. Existing conceptual models of childhood obesity do not bring the role of cultural factors to the fore, but this context needs to be explicitly considered in the development of childhood obesity interventions.
► We examined contextual influences on childhood obesity in South Asian communities. ► We held focus groups with stakeholders from UK South Asian communities. ► Knowledge of context is critical for childhood obesity intervention development. ► Cultural influences on childhood obesity need to be understood in detail.
PMCID: PMC3322335  PMID: 22305949
UK; South Asian; Child; Obesity; Food intake; Physical activity; Context
5.  Widening access to medical education for under-represented socioeconomic groups: population based cross sectional analysis of UK data, 2002-6 
Objective To determine whether new programmes developed to widen access to medicine in the United Kingdom have produced more diverse student populations.
Design Population based cross sectional analysis.
Setting 31 UK universities that offer medical degrees.
Participants 34 407 UK medical students admitted to university in 2002-6.
Main outcome measures Age, sex, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity of students admitted to traditional courses and newer courses (graduate entry courses (GEC) and foundation) designed to widen access and increase diversity.
Results The demographics of students admitted to foundation courses were markedly different from traditional, graduate entry, and pre-medical courses. They were less likely to be white and to define their background as higher managerial and professional. Students on the graduate entry programme were older than students on traditional courses (25.5 v 19.2 years) and more likely to be white (odds ratio 3.74, 95% confidence interval 3.27 to 4.28; P<0.001) than those on traditional courses, but there was no difference in the ratio of men. Students on traditional courses at newer schools were significantly older by an average of 2.53 (2.41 to 2.65; P<0.001) years, more likely to be white (1.55, 1.41 to 1.71; P<0.001), and significantly less likely to have higher managerial and professional backgrounds than those at established schools (0.67, 0.61 to 0.73; P<0.001). There were marked differences in demographics across individual established schools offering both graduate entry and traditional courses.
Conclusions The graduate entry programmes do not seem to have led to significant changes to the socioeconomic profile of the UK medical student population. Foundation programmes have increased the proportion of students from under-represented groups but numbers entering these courses are small.
PMCID: PMC3043108  PMID: 21343208
6.  Will the NHS continue to function in an influenza pandemic? a survey of healthcare workers in the West Midlands, UK 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:142.
If UK healthcare services are to respond effectively to pandemic influenza, levels of absenteeism amongst healthcare workers (HCWs) must be minimised. Current estimates of the likelihood that HCWs will continue to attend work during a pandemic are subject to scientific and predictive uncertainty, yet an informed evidence base is needed if contingency plans addressing the issues of HCW absenteeism are to be prepared.
This paper reports the findings of a self-completed survey of randomly selected HCWs across three purposively sampled healthcare trusts in the West Midlands. The survey aimed to identify the factors positively or negatively associated with willingness to work during an influenza pandemic, and to evaluate the acceptability of potential interventions or changes to working practice to promote the continued presence at work of those otherwise unwilling or unable to attend. 'Likelihood' and 'persuadability' scores were calculated for each respondent according to indications of whether or not they were likely to work under different circumstances. Binary logistic regression was used to compute bivariate and multivariate odds ratios to evaluate the association of demographic variables and other respondent characteristics with the self-described likelihood of reporting to work.
The survey response rate was 34.4% (n = 1032). Results suggest absenteeism may be as high as 85% at any point during a pandemic, with potential absence particularly concentrated amongst nursing and ancillary workers (OR 0.3; 95% CI 0.1 to 0.7 and 0.5; 95% CI 0.2 to 0.9 respectively).
Levels of absenteeism amongst HCWs may be considerably higher than official estimates, with potential absence concentrated amongst certain groups of employees. Although interventions designed to minimise absenteeism should target HCWs with a low stated likelihood of working, members of these groups may also be the least receptive to such interventions. Changes to working conditions which reduce barriers to the ability to work may not address barriers linked to willingness to work, and may fail to overcome HCWs' reluctance to work in the face of what may still be deemed unacceptable risk to self and/or family.
PMCID: PMC2690584  PMID: 19442272
7.  Use of health impact assessment in incorporating health considerations in decision making 
Study aim
The aim of this project is to identify from a range of sources the factors associated with the success of a health impact assessment (HIA) in integrating health considerations into the final decision and implementation of a planned policy, programme, or project.
Three methods were adopted: (a) a review of HIA case studies; (b) a review of commentaries, reviews and discussion papers relating to HIA and decision making; and (c) an email survey of a purposive sample of HIA academics, HIA practitioners, and policymakers. Information was captured on the following characteristics: information on the year undertaken; geopolitical level; setting; sector; HIA type; methods and techniques used; identification of assessors.
Main results
Two groups of factors were identified relating to the decision making environment and to the technical conduct of the HIA. With regard to the environment, striking a balance between decision maker ownership and HIA credibility; organisational, statutory and policy commitment to HIA, and the provision of realistic, non‐controversial recommendations were cited as enablers to the integration of HIA findings into the decision making process. Barriers included a lack of knowledge of the policymaking environment by those conducting HIA. Regarding factors relating to the conduct of the HIA: use of a consistent methodological approach; inclusion of empirical evidence on health impacts; timing of the HIA congruent with the decision making process; involvement of expert HIA assessors; and shaping of recommendations to reflect organisational priorities were cited as enablers while lack of a standardised methodology; lack of resources and use of jargon were cited as barriers.
The findings emphasise the importance of considering the politico‐administrative environment in which HIA operates. The extent to which HIA fits the requirements of organisations and decision makers may be as important as the technical methods adopted to undertake it.
PMCID: PMC2465566  PMID: 16476747
health impact assessment; review; decision making
8.  Healthcare workers' attitudes to working during pandemic influenza: a qualitative study 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:56.
Healthcare workers (HCWs) will play a key role in any response to pandemic influenza, and the UK healthcare system's ability to cope during an influenza pandemic will depend, to a large extent, on the number of HCWs who are able and willing to work through the crisis. UK emergency planning will be improved if planners have a better understanding of the reasons UK HCWs may have for their absenteeism, and what might motivate them to work during an influenza pandemic.
This paper reports the results of a qualitative study that explored UK HCWs' views (n = 64) about working during an influenza pandemic, in order to identify factors that might influence their willingness and ability to work and to identify potential sources of any perceived duty on HCWs to work.
A qualitative study, using focus groups (n = 9) and interviews (n = 5).
HCWs across a range of roles and grades tended to feel motivated by a sense of obligation to work through an influenza pandemic. A number of significant barriers that may prevent them from doing so were also identified. Perceived barriers to the ability to work included being ill oneself, transport difficulties, and childcare responsibilities. Perceived barriers to the willingness to work included: prioritising the wellbeing of family members; a lack of trust in, and goodwill towards, the NHS; a lack of information about the risks and what is expected of them during the crisis; fear of litigation; and the feeling that employers do not take the needs of staff seriously. Barriers to ability and barriers to willingness, however, are difficult to separate out.
Although our participants tended to feel a general obligation to work during an influenza pandemic, there are barriers to working, which, if generalisable, may significantly reduce the NHS workforce during a pandemic. The barriers identified are both barriers to willingness and to ability. This suggests that pandemic planning needs to take into account the possibility that staff may be absent for reasons beyond those currently anticipated in UK planning documents. In particular, staff who are physically able to attend work may nonetheless be unwilling to do so. Although there are some barriers that cannot be mitigated by employers (such as illness, transport infrastructure etc.), there are a number of remedial steps that can be taken to lesson the impact of others (providing accommodation, building reciprocity, provision of information and guidance etc). We suggest that barriers to working lie along an ability/willingness continuum, and that absenteeism may be reduced by taking steps to prevent barriers to willingness becoming perceived barriers to ability.
PMCID: PMC2654560  PMID: 19216738
9.  Healthcare workers' attitudes towards working during pandemic influenza: A multi method study 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:192.
Healthcare workers (HCWs) will be key players in any response to pandemic influenza, and will be in the front line of exposure to infection. Responding effectively to a pandemic relies on the majority of medical, nursing, laboratory and hotel services staff continuing to work normally. Planning assumes that during a pandemic normal healthcare service levels will be provided, although it anticipates that as caseloads increase only essential care will be provided. The ability of the NHS to provide expected service levels is entirely dependent upon HCWs continuing to work as normal.
This study is designed as a two-phase multi-method study, incorporating focus groups and a questionnaire survey. In phase one, qualitative methods will be used to collect the views of a purposive sample of HCWs, to determine the range of factors associated with their responses to the prospect of working through pandemic influenza. In phase two, the findings from the focus groups, combined with the available literature, will be used to inform the design of a survey to determine the generalisability of these factors, enabling the estimation of the likely proportion of HCWs affected by each factor, and how likely it is that they would be willing and/or able to continue to work during an influenza pandemic.
There are potentially greater than normal health risks for some healthcare workers working during a pandemic, and these workers may be concerned about infecting family members/friends. HCWs will be as liable as other workers to care for sick family members and friends. It is vital to have information about how motivated HCWs will be to continue to work during such a crisis, and what factors might influence their decision to work/not to work. Through the identification and subsequent management of these factors it may be possible to implement strategies that will alleviate the concerns and fears of HCWs and remove potential barriers to working.
PMCID: PMC2423372  PMID: 18518971
10.  Admissions processes for five year medical courses at English schools: review 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2006;332(7548):1005-1009.
Objective To describe the current methods used by English medical schools to identify prospective medical students for admission to the five year degree course.
Design Review study including documentary analysis and interviews with admissions tutors.
Setting All schools (n = 22) participating in the national expansion of medical schools programme in England.
Results Though there is some commonality across schools with regard to the criteria used to select future students (academic ability coupled with a “well rounded” personality demonstrated by motivation for medicine, extracurricular interests, and experience of team working and leadership skills) the processes used vary substantially. Some schools do not interview; some shortlist for interview only on predicted academic performance while those that shortlist on a wider range of non-academic criteria use various techniques and tools to do so. Some schools use information presented in the candidate's personal statement and referee's report while others ignore this because of concerns over bias. A few schools seek additional information from supplementary questionnaires filled in by the candidates. Once students are shortlisted, interviews vary in terms of length, panel composition, structure, content, and scoring methods.
Conclusion The stated criteria for admission to medical school show commonality. Universities differ greatly, however, in how they apply these criteria and in the methods used to select students. Different approaches to admissions should be developed and tested.
PMCID: PMC1450044  PMID: 16543300
12.  Clinical trials in primary care  
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;317(7167):1168-1169.
PMCID: PMC1114149  PMID: 9794845

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