The evaluation of health and social care partnerships: an analysis of approaches and synthesis for the future

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At a time when health and social care partnerships are continuing to occupy a central role within the UK government's policy strategy, researchers are increasingly being required to evaluate such organisational entities. This paper looks at a wide range of approaches which have been utilised to evaluate health and social care partnerships, and suggests that theory-led strategies are better able to address the complexities associated with such forms of evaluation. In particular, the author suggests that a combination of theories of change and realistic evaluation seems to be the most fruitful in tackling the evaluation difficulties associated with partnerships. Despite both being theory-led evaluation strategies, they fulfil quite different and complementary roles. However, both these approaches have been found to have some limitations in practice. Therefore, this paper suggests that interpreting these approaches through a framework of critical realism may overcome a number of these difficulties.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-383
Number of pages9
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2006


  • partnerships, theory-led, critical realism, evaluation