PhD course

Developing and testing complex healthcare interventions

Course description

Language of instruction


Course content

The aim of the course is to introduce healthcare service researchers to the process of evaluating complex interventions.

The course will consist of:

  • Defining the concepts of feasibility testing, piloting and definitive trials
  • The design of randomised controlled trials to maximise generalisability and minimise both reactive and systematic bias
  • The role of statistics in trial design and evaluation
  • The concept of health economics and how to incorporate it in the evaluation of complex interventions
  • Process evaluation to maximise intervention effectiveness and likelihood of future implementation

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student should be able to:


With respect to complex interventions:

  • Describe the framework for development and evaluation
  • Create a plan for feasibility testing to inform definitive trial design
  • Select appropriate primary and secondary outcome measures based on a bespoke logic model



  • Prepare a research proposal
  • Design a randomised controlled trial which minimises bias and includes collection of appropriate economic, clinical and humanisticoutcome measures to enable estimation of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness
  • Create a process evaluation to enhance the effectiveness of complex intervenion and the likelihood of implementation


General competencies:

  • Demonstrate presentation skills
  • Practice team working

Study period


Specific terms

Recommended previous knowledge

Understanding of health systems and undergraduate degree level understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods

Compulsory Requirements

Active participation in team work

Form of assessment

Completion, delivery and defense of presentation to academic panel of a proposal for development and testing of a novel complex intervention.

Grading Scale: pass/fail

Who may participate

Students who are enrolled in the Norwegian PhD School of Pharmacy will have priority, but others may attend if there is available space.

Addtional information

Supplementary course information

The course, which will be delivered over four days, will primarily consist of workshops (WS), support sessions (SS) and trainee presentations (TP). Where appropriate brief lectures (L) will be included.

Course introduction

  • Defining and developing complex interventions overview (L)
  • Designing a Randomised Controlled Trial (WS)
  • Trial title allocation and discussion time (SS)
  • Logic models & outcome selection (WS)
  • Feasibility testing and piloting (WS)
  • Facilitated team session to develop allocated trial (SS)
  • Health Economics Introduction and overview (WS)
  • Incorporating Health Economics into trials (WS)
  • Facilitated team session to develop allocated trial (SS)
  • Sample size calculation, power and stats (WS)
  • Facilitated team session to develop allocated trial (SS)
  • Team presentations and assessment (TP)


For more information, contact:


Reading list

Guidance on the evaluation of complex interventions

Detailed guide to developing feasibility studies

Guidance pack on the inclusions of economics in health service evaluations

Exam information

Study period