HP428 Half Unit
Randomised evaluations of health programmes: from design to implementation
This information is for the 2021/22 session.
Dr Mylene Lagarde COW 3.02
This course is available on the MSc in Global Health Policy, MSc in Health Data Science, MSc in Health Policy, Planning and Financing, MSc in International Health Policy and MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access) and demand is typically high. Places are allocated first to students in the Department of Health Policy and then on a first come first served basis.
Randomized trials have long been used in the clinical world to test the efficacy of medical treatments. Increasingly, social scientists have used the same approach, randomly assigning groups to different interventions, in order to determine which policies are most likely to address the key behavioural problems faced by health systems, from inadequate provider performance to low adherence to treatment or risky health behaviours.
This course proposes a hands-on and intuitive approach to designing and conducting a randomised evaluation of a behavioural health programme. The aim of the course is to provide students will the skills required to design and implement a successful randomised evaluation. By the end of the course, students should be able to:
- Explain the reasons for undertaking randomised evaluations;
- Design and plan a randomised experiment to ensure it answers relevant questions, informed by a conceptual framework;
- Understand the technical aspects of the randomised evaluation, including be able to perform and understand simple sample size calculation;
- Explore potential threats to randomisation, and implement strategies to mitigate them;
- Determine how to best measure the outcomes of interest, including reflecting on the accuracy of survey instruments;
- Understand the best practices in how to conduct and manage fieldwork, and follow ethical principles to conducting research.
- Understand the best practices to analyse data from different types of randomised evaluations.
Seminars will be designed to encourage students to critically engage with the topics and apply the technical skills taught in lectures. Each seminar will be closely aligned with the lecture content to give students the opportunity to apply the new knowledge. Case studies will be chosen from various cultural backgrounds, to allow the presentation of a diverse range of settings and issues. Throughout the courses, but more extensively in the second half of the term, seminars will be dedicated to discussing issues and problems raised in lectures in relation to the project chosen by students in their group for the research protocol.
This course will be delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours during Lent Term. Seminars will take place in small groups and consist of a mix of case studies and discussions/presentations of the students’ own work. Ahead of the seminars students will work in small groups on structured learning activities set by the course lead. Each seminar will also be a forum for discussing, presenting and receiving feedback on students’ research protocols.
There will be a departmental reading week in week 6 of term.
A draft protocol. Students will be asked to submit a short 1,500 word draft protocol by week 5. While some aspects of their work may still be work in progress (e.g. using bullet points), students will be expected to write up the start of their protocol in a detailed way. Detailed feedback will be given to each student.
The main textbook that will be used throughout the course is:
- Glennerster, R., & Takavarasha, K. (2013). Running Randomized Evaluations: a Practical Guide. Princeton University Press.
Other useful resources include:
- Gerber, A. S., & Green, D. P. (2012). Field Experiments: Design, Analysis and Interpretation. New York, NY: Norton.
- Duflo, Esther, et al. (2006) Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit.
- White, Howard (2009) ‘Theory-based impact evaluation: principles and practice’, Journal of Development Effectiveness 1(3)
- Drost, E.A. (2011) Validity and Reliability in Social Science Research. Education Research and Perspectives, 38, 105- 123
- Olken, B. A. (2015). "Promises and Perils of Pre-analysis Plans." Journal of Economic Perspectives 29(3): 61--80.
- Rachel Glennerster and Shawn Powers Balancing Risk and Benefit: Ethical Tradeoffs in Running Randomized Evaluations
- Dupas, P., & Miguel, E. (2017). Impacts and Determinants of Health Levels in Low-Income Countries. In E. Duflo & A. Banerjee (Eds.), Handbook of Field Experiments: North Holland.
Other general interest books that discuss randomised evaluations (applications, challenges) include:
- Halpern, D. (2016). Inside the Nudge Unit. London, Penguin Press.
- Leigh, A. (2018). Randomistas: How Radical Researchers Are Changing Our World, Yale University Press.
Research proposal (100%) in the LT.
The objective of the research protocol (4,000 words max) will be to plan the randomised evaluation of a particular health programme. Students will be asked to choose an intervention to address a particular behavioural problem from a proposed list (e.g. increasing health insurance uptake, improving doctor performance or quality of care; reducing risky health behaviours; increasing patient adherence to treatment etc.). Students will also be given the option to choose their own topic (pending agreement by their seminar leader).
Course selection videos
Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.
Department: Health Policy
Total students 2020/21: 49
Average class size 2020/21: 16
Controlled access 2020/21: Yes
Value: Half Unit
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Application of numeracy skills
- Specialist skills