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In developing findings and conclusions from their studies, researchers are making ‘evidence claims’.
While realist methods have been successfully used to understand the effectiveness of policies and programmes, to inform intervention design and development, we believe the overall logic of realist explanation can also be used to better understand the implementation and effective delivery of complex health interventions and programmes.
After introducing the fundamentals of realist inquiry, and the approach of realist synthesis, we will present our realist synthesis of the implementation of health promotion in schools.
There is a proliferation of terms used to describe different kinds of reviews; the most important thing is to be transparent and clear about your aims, methods, and reporting.
In the same way that methods used in primary research will depend upon the research question, the type of evidence review and synthesis method will also be determined by the question or topic it seeks to address.
Consider publishing your protocol in a journal such as Systematic reviews or registering it with the PROSPERO database.
The EPPI-Centre has an online database of systematic reviews which can be searched here.
The aim is to go beyond testing the trustworthiness (quality appraisal ) of individual studies to discuss the ways in which evidence standards are used to make evidence claims to inform decisions in policy, practice, and personal decision making.
Realist synthesis is an approach to systematic review which explicitly aims to identify and refine programme theory – that is, develop explanations of how and why programmes ‘work’.