Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) help identify whether a change in policy, intervention or practice results in changes in outcomes. RCTs randomly assign people into two groups: 'treatment' and 'control'. The intervention or change is applied to the treatment group but not the control group and the outcomes of both groups are observed.
Being able to isolate and test different policy decisions produces the best evidence for decision makers. Well-executed RCTs minimise the possibility that observed changes in outcomes are a result of different changes to the one tested. Often, policy changes are implemented without knowledge of their impact; RCTs allow us to understand 'what would have happened otherwise'.
RAND Europe uses RCTs for simple and complex social interventions in several areas of policy, including education, employment and criminal justice. We have expertise in planning and undertaking all elements of both randomised trials and the process evaluations that enable us to answer the 'why' and 'how' questions about results.