Research Governance Toolkit Research, Audit, Service Evaluation
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Research, Audit, Service Evaluation

Defining Research / Audit / Service Evaluation

Research – creates new knowledge and forms the basis of agreed guidelines and standards – what practice should be

Audit – looks at practice, compares it with guidelines or standards and checks we are doing it as we should; if not then why – whether practice is as good as it should be

Service evaluation – conducted to define or judge current care or practice – how practice is

Research is concerned with discovering the right thing to do; Audit is ensuring it is done right.

Research

Audit

Service Evaluation

Creates new knowledge

Motivated to define current care

Motivated to define current care

Based on an idea (hypothesis)

Based on the comparison of practice against standards

Based on judging standards of practice

May be large scale or over long time period

Usually small scale over short period

Usually small scale over short period

May involve patients receiving a completely new treatment or intervention

Never involves any new treatments

Never involves any new treatments

May involve patients being given treatments/drugs

Does not affect patients normal treatment

Does not affect patients normal treatment

No built in mechanism to act on findings

Clear responsibility to act on findings

Clear responsibility to act on findings

Findings can have a wide influence on clinical practice

Findings can influence new standards or guidelines

Findings usually influence local practice

Always requires ethical approval

Does not require ethical approval

Does not require ethical approval

Remember – without research we will not know the most effective practice, without audit/service evaluation we cannot know if it is being practiced.

The primary aim of research is to derive new knowledge, whereas the aim of an audit or service evaluation project is to measure the current standard of care. Research is to find out what you should be doing; audit is to find out if you are doing planned activity and assesses whether it is working.

There can be times when it is not clear if a study is research or uncertainty occurs where research ends and service evaluation/audit begins. In some casesthere may be no standards in place and no knowledge of levels of activity in which those are based. However, if at any time you are comparing treatments or introducing new treatments you will be performing research. Audit and service evaluation can be carried out as part of quality assurance and these involve minimal risk or burden for participants.