Improving the efficiency of evidence-based interventions: The strengths and limitations of randomised controlled trials
Globally, randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are increasingly seen as the gold standard of programme evaluation, representing the best way to determine whether new interventions are effective – but they are not without limitations. In this article, we discuss the phases of scientific discovery and the research standards that are necessary before scaling up interventions. We also outline the core characteristics of RCTs, such as randomisation, efficacy and effectiveness, and discuss the benefits of using the RCT as the standard of intervention evaluation. We discuss how ‘realist’ evaluation contributes to what policymakers need to know in order to make a decision about an evaluation and alternatives to the RCT, such as stepped wedge, regression discontinuity, non-randomised cohort, and time series designs.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
SACQ is licenced under a creative commons licence (CC BY) that allows others to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long a they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. They may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
Copyright for articles published is vested equally between the author/s, the Institute for Security Studies and the Centre of Criminology (UCT).