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Table 3 Identified themes across Phase I and II

From: The generation of consensus guidelines for carrying out process evaluations in rehabilitation research

Theme Description
The practicalities of doing research – being realistic about what ‘can be done’ All participants agreed that there is a degree of compromise which impacts on what can realistically be achieved at the time of evaluating processes. Participants expressed their desire to not only rate recommendations in terms of the need for them to be included in the guidelines, but also to rank these statements in terms of their relative importance.
Stand point – role of theory, concepts and roles Participants expressed how it is important for any guidelines to include an explanation of the assumptions that underpin it. The participants’ epistemological and ontological stance highly influenced their views regarding proposed recommendations and their understanding of the guidelines’ content. Likewise, participants expressed different views in regards of the role that theory plays at the time of designing and carrying out a process evaluation. Participants considered that for guidelines to work, they need to clearly explain their underlying assumptions. In this way, the rehabilitation researcher can make an informed decision at the time of following the proposed guidelines.
Investigating tailoring and ‘making connections’ Participants identified the need for a process evaluation to investigate the level of tailoring and its impact on outcomes. They discussed in depth the challenges in assessing the degree of tailoring taking place at the time of trialling a rehabilitation intervention. Participants widely agreed on the fact that in the everyday running of a trial it was unrealistic to assume complete consistency in the way professionals deliver proposed rehabilitation interventions.
Who is the end user? Participants unanimously agreed on the fact that all process evaluations should have clear aims and objectives and that these would differ according to the type of trial under evaluation and the timing of the evaluation. The proposed guidelines need to state who the end users are; rehabilitation researchers will then be responsible for tailoring its recommendations to best fit their evaluation aim. Participants agreed that the process evaluation guidelines would need to be tailored, not only to a particular process evaluation, but also to end users’ needs.