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Edited by Nicolina Montesano Montessori, Michael Farrelly and Jane Mulderrig
Chapter 10 by Liket discusses how policy-makers, given evaluation and knowledge of what works, combine accountability for decisions with ensuring cost-effectiveness. Liket also points to some main challenges to evaluations, including poor distinctions between performance, monitoring and evaluation, low-quality evaluation questions, and finally problems in data collection.
The book ends with some conclusions and perspectives related to evidence-based policies in Chapter 26 by Greve. Overall, he points out, the chapters in this book point to three separate, but somehow interlinked issues related to evaluation of social policy: possible ethical issues related to use of evidence; technical issues in doing research and analysis; and finally, the issue of the impact of pressure and interest groups on the gathering of knowledge, and the possible interpretation of that knowledge.
Chapter 13 on critical perspectives by Dahler-Larsen presents arguments and counterarguments for and against using evidence in social policy. The chapters shows that positions range from those who point to practical implementation problems, to those who question the practical and political relevance of evidence, to those who discuss whether evidence serves specific interests. Thus, the chapter also looks into the dilemmas and pitfalls involved when using evidence.
Morten Balle Hansen, Karen Nielsen Breidahl, Jan-Eric Furubo and Anne Halvorsen
Chapter 23 by Hansen et al. looks at what to be aware of when implementing large-scale policy reforms. They argue in favour of eight crucial attention points based upon evaluation of public sector reforms: indicators of how to use evaluation as an instrument for improving future implementation of large-scale reforms.
Julian Edbrooke-Childs, Dawid Gondek, Isabelle Whelan, Jenna Jacob, Matt Barnard, Helen Gleeson, Makeda Gerressu, Monica Lakhanpaul, Caroletha Irish, Emma Cassells, Khyati Bakhai and Miranda Wolpert
Children’s and young people’s well-being is a central aspect in many welfare states. Chapter 21 by Edbrooke-Childs et al. explores the many and varied methodological issues related to the ability to analyse interventions and support for this population. Besides methodological reflections, there is a discussion of what has been learnt, and how this should be able to inform policy-makers on what to do in relation to policies.
Long-term care is a specific policy area of growing importance in social policy. Chapter 17 by Rodrigues addresses challenges and problems in evaluating long-term care. A very central issue is the quality of life in long-term care – as well as a precise definition of what long-term care actually is. Measuring effectiveness is also very difficult given that those in need of long-term care might increase their ability to live independently, but their health condition may not improve.
Michael Calnan and Tom Douglass
A central question in social policy is on what basis one should accept and use new types of medicines. This is the focus of Chapter 16 by Calnan and Douglass. Medicine is an area where there has long been a focus on what works, and if there are possible side-effects. Therefore, there is a need for strong criteria for when and how to use new types of medicine.
Kat Smith and Tina Haux
Chapter 8 by Smith and Haux focuses on when and how evidence is used in policy-making. They explore the idea of evidence-based policy-making (EBPM) and consider the absence of agreed definitions. They discuss popular models of the relationship between evidence and policy and theories of policy-making, as well as some of the key criticisms of these approaches. After this, they take a more practical focus to consider the issues that arose when the UK’s New Labour government (1997–2010) officially committed to taking an evidence-based approach to policy-making.