International Practice Development Journal


Title of ArticleAdvancing the practice development outcomes agenda within multiple contexts
Type of ArticleOriginal practice development and research
Author/sKim Manley, Jackie Crisp, Cheryle Moss
ReferenceVolume 1, Issue 1, Article 4
Date of PublicationJune 2011
KeywordsComplex intervention, evaluation, impact, outcomes, practice development, quality, sustainability


To-date the major focus and activity has been on clarifying the nature of practice development intervention and in developing and identifying approaches, methods and processes that fit with the intent of practice development work. Further effort has emphasised the importance of achieving this intent while ensuring that practice development work, as a ‘complex intervention’, is adapted locally and contextually. Whilst a range of outcomes have been achieved from systematic practice development work, the need to develop strategic level evaluation frameworks that reflect the complex and multi-faceted nature of practice development interventions has also been identified. The evolution of practice development as an effective intervention for enhancing practice and workplace cultures is contingent on the explication and demonstration of both the process and health outcomes it achieves. The accumulation of this evidence of effectiveness is required to ensure the uptake of practice development by policy makers and commissioners of quality and research enhancements across both health and academic sectors.

The practice development outcomes agenda calls for consensus around parameters of practice development interventions, process outcomes and the major health outcomes that drive practice development work. The availability of the work on effective workplace cultures, the key process outcome through which practice development values are sustained, provides a useful way forward in relation to identifying a shared set of outcomes that complements practice development’s own PRAXIS evaluation framework and provides a meaningful way of engaging those undertaking practice development in locally valuable, and internationally relevant outcome evaluation.

The purpose of this position paper is to challenge the international practice development community to be clearer about the ‘fit’ between the dominant discourses around quality, health outcomes and research impact, the purpose and intent of practice development work, and our need to pay due regard to both. This purpose is achieved by building on the need to develop a strategic level evaluation framework by:

  • Raising awareness of the context of practice development intervention and advancement of an outcomes agenda within the dominant discourses around quality, health outcomes and research impact evaluation
  • Furthering the dialogue around the outcomes of practice development to move the evaluation agenda forward

We conclude with a recommendation for a shared agenda in establishing the outcomes of practice development internationally through the creation of shared approaches to outcome evaluation. This approach we argue will deliver on the dominant discourse around quality, health outcomes and research impact, the purpose and intent of practice development, as well as, increase the uptake of practice development so that its potential is fully optimised.

Implications for practice include consideration of the:

  • Value of capturing process and outcome data associated with practice development initiatives
  • Diversity of approaches available for evaluating practice development initiatives
  • Need to consider the interests and expectations of the full range of stakeholders when evaluating practice development work
  • Political realities surrounding practice development work, the value placed on it and mechanisms for obtaining funding


This article by Kim Manley, Jackie Crisp, Cheryle Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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