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The challenges and opportunities of implementing RCTs in live social policy settings

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Adam Coutts.

Seminar series: ‘The challenges of experimental government’. Department of Sociology. Funding kindly provided by the Health Foundation.

Randomised Control Trials, behavioural insights and ‘nudge’ style policy interventions have become popular in government, development policy, academia and business. There is, however, a lack of information and evidence on the challenges of setting up and implementing these complex social interventions and experimental evaluations particularly documenting when things go wrong and why. This seminar series brings together leading academics and policy makers to provide case studies and field stories of how to design and implement social policy experiments.

In the fifth seminar of the series we are pleased to welcome David Johnson, Evaluation lead for the health led trials at the Work and Health Unit, Department for Work and Pensions. David will be talking about his experiences of designing and implementing the health led trials within government, the challenges they face and the key lessons of what has worked.

The trials are taking the concept of Individual Placement and Support (IPS) and testing it with new groups of people and different health conditions. The trials began in autumn 2017 and run until 2020. They are a joint endeavour between: DWP , DH and NHS -E and two large local sites: the West Midlands Combined Authority and Sheffield City Region.

David Johnson bio

Social researcher in the DWP and DHSC Joint Work and Health Unit where he leads on policy trials in the innovation space. Previously, he was Head of Research for the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s Green Deal programme, and before that Head of Profession for Social Research in the Treasury, where he sat on the Social Policy and Social Work REF panel. He is Chair of the Social Research Association.

His recent work has involved working with colleagues to design and develop a large scale randomised control trial to test a variety of health-led approaches to improving the health and work participation and retention of people with more common health conditions such as anxiety, depression and musculoskeletal (MSK) problems.

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