If you are uncertain as to how to classify your study in terms of its design (e.g. research, service evaluation, clinical audit etc.), please use the table below:
|RESEARCH||SERVICE EVALUATION*||CLINICAL AUDIT||SURVEILLANCE||USUAL PRACTICE
(in public health)
|The attempt to derive generalizable new knowledge including studies that aim to generate hypotheses as well as studies that aim to test them.||Designed and conducted solely to define or judge current care.||Designed and conducted to produce information to inform delivery of best care.||Designed to manage outbreak and help the public by identifying and understanding risks associated.||Designed to investigate outbreak or incident to help in disease control and prevention.|
|Quantitative research – designed to test a hypothesis. Qualitative research – identifies/explores themes following established methodology.||Designed to answer: “What standard does this service achieve?”||Designed to answer: “Does this service reach a predetermined standard?”||Designed to answer: “What is the cause of this outbreak?”||Designed to answer: “What is the cause of this outbreak?” and treat.|
|Addresses clearly defined questions, aims and objectives.||Measures current service without reference to a standard.||Measures against a standard.||Systematic, statistical methods to allow timely public health action.||Systematic, statistical methods may be used.|
|Quantitative research – may involve evaluating or comparing interventions, particularly new ones. Qualitative research – usually involves studying how interventions and relationships are experienced.||Involves an intervention in use only. The choice of treatment is that of the clinician and patient according to guidance, professional standards and/or patient preference.||Involves an intervention in use only. The choice of treatment is that of the clinician and patient according to guidance, professional standards and/or patient preference.||May involve collecting personal data and samples with the intent
to manage the incident.
|Any choice of treatment is based on clinical best evidence or professional consensus.|
|Usually involves collecting data that are additional to those for routine care but may include data collected routinely. May involve treatments, samples or investigations additional to routine care.||Usually involves analysis of existing data but may include administration of interview or questionnaire.||Usually involves analysis of existing data but may include administration of simple interview or questionnaire.||May involve analysis of existing data or administration of interview or questionnaire to those exposed.||May involve administration of interview or questionnaire to those exposed.|
|Quantitative research – study design may involve allocating patients to intervention groups. Qualitative research – uses a clearly defined sampling framework underpinned by conceptual or theoretical justifications.||No allocation to intervention: the health professional and patient have chosen intervention before service evaluation.||No allocation to intervention: the health professional and patient have chosen intervention before audit.||Does not involve an intervention.||May involve allocation to control group to assess risk and identify source of incident but treatment unaffected.|
|May involve randomisation.||No randomisation.||No randomisation.||No randomisation.||May involve randomisation but not for treatment.|
|Requires NHS REC review, if involving NHS patients, or BSREC review otherwise.||BSREC review is required.||BSREC review is required.||Does not require research ethical review.||Does not require research ethical review.|
* Service development and quality improvement may fall into this category.