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Rapid and inclusive?

We've been in several meetings recently where research teams flagged concerns that rapid evaluation could equal lack of inclusion. Whilst rapid evaluation and inclusive research are two distinct concepts, we believe it is possible to do both simultaneously.

Let's start at the beginning....or is it the end?

Dr Cecilia Vindrola-Padros paper for Nuffield Health sets out how applying rapid evaluation can support systems to apply actionable findings quickly. The paper was written in 2019, before the word covid entered our lexicon yet, the need for informed and often rapid evidence has increased in the 'post' covid world.

Rapid evaluation often involves using expedited methods to collect and analyse data within a short timeframe. The primary goal of rapid evaluation is to provide timely feedback and insights to decision-makers, allowing them to make informed decisions and adjustments as needed.

Inclusive research, on the other hand, emphasises the importance of involving diverse and representative groups of participants in the research process. This approach aims to ensure that research includes voices and perspectives from individuals who may have been historically marginalised or excluded.

When we stood up our team in NHSx at the height of the pandemic, we served to support 'rapid evaluation' across the system. While rapid evaluation and inclusive research are not inherently synonymous, we demonstrated they can intersect in the following ways:

  • Addressing Equity and Inequality in recruitment: We believe all public services should be inclusive. We apply a proportionate universalism approach meaning we recruit the participants most likely to be excluded by the pathway, service or product then roll it out for all.

  • Inclusive Data Collection: People Street's agile community development approach provides a way to include diverse voices quickly. We offer a wrap around service so participants are supported throughout their journey and don't feel rushed or used. Instead they experience the research as "I'm making a difference" and go on to recommend us to family and friends.

  • Responsive Decision-Making: Rapid evaluation can be more effective when it considers the perspectives and experiences of a wide range of stakeholders, which aligns with the principles of inclusive research. This leads to more informed and equitable decision-making.

Rapid evaluation and inclusive research are not interchangeable terms, but they can complement each other, especially when rapid evaluations are conducted with an inclusive approach to participant recruitment, data collection and analysis. This combination can help ensure that research efforts are not only timely but also sensitive to the needs and perspectives of diverse populations.

If you're planning a research challenge and you want to ensure you're speaking to under-heard groups, get in touch with us.

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