Participatory research meets validated outcome measures: tensions in the co-production of social care evaluation

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Funding for care service research is increasingly subject to the satisfaction of two requirements: public involvement; and adoption of validated outcome tools. This study identifies competing paradigms within these requirements and reveals significant challenges faced by researchers who seek to satisfy them. The focus here is on a study co-produced between academic researchers and people with experience of adult social care services. It examines to what extent research studies can conduct high quality public involvement and genuine co-production of knowledge, whilst attempting to produce quantifiable outcome scores. Findings add to debate around how to incorporate diverse perspectives in research which may draw on incommensurate accounts of validity and reliability. Findings also highlight constructive attempts by academic and co-researchers to make the combination of approaches work in the field. These small scale acts of researcher agency indicate some scope to combine the two approaches in future research studies. However conclusions foreground the importance of broader awareness of how tensions and power imbalances related to this combination of approaches play out in social policy research practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-325
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number2
Early online date8 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • co-production
  • co-research
  • evaluation
  • outcome measures
  • social care


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