Lessons from the Randomized Trial Evaluation of a New Parent Program

When the Evaluators See the Glass as Half Full, and the Community Sees the Glass as Half Empty

Published in: Journal of Experimental Criminology, v. 8, no. 3, Sep. 2012, p. 255-270

Posted on RAND.org on September 01, 2012

by M. Rebecca Kilburn

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OBJECTIVES: To disseminate lessons learned from implementing a randomized trial in a community setting so that other randomized trials can anticipate and prevent some of the challenges we encountered. METHODS: A discussion of common challenges to the implementation of randomized trials and how the structure of our trial mitigated some of these, and a description of unanticipated challenges we encountered and how we addressed them. RESULTS: While we set up our randomized trial in a way that avoided some of the "pitfalls" of trials identified in the literature, we still encountered challenges that we did not anticipate. We undertook corrective actions to address these, and the caseflow of the trial improved. CONCLUSION: All the lessons from our trial are variants of the same issue: ensuring sufficient buy-in among the program staff and community stakeholders. Even though we thought we had engaged in extensive activities to promote buy-in, it turned out that these efforts were not adequate. Trials would benefit from developing an outreach plan that targets individuals from across the organizational chart of involved organizations, is ongoing, and actively solicits concerns from stakeholders so that these can be addressed in a timely fashion. These activities represent a sizable amount of effort and need to be incorporated into project budgets.

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