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Addiction. 2000 Nov;95 Suppl 3:S329-45.

Methods for evaluating policy changes in alcohol services.

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Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 2000 Hearst Ave., Suite 300, Berkeley, CA 94709-2176, USA.


Policy research assesses how outside forces affect alcohol treatment services. In this primer, we examine a range of effective methods that can be brought to bear by researchers and address the issues involved in conceptualizing and conducting studies of policy formation, implementation and policy implications. Because there is no single superior methodology for studying policy change, researchers have relied on five broad methodologies for studying policy context, formation, change and implications. We provide specific examples of each approach, addressing the following issues: data sources and samples; the problems, challenges, strengths, and limitations of the approach; and whether (and how) the method has been used in the alcohol field. The five methods are archival studies; key informant studies; ethnographic and observational studies; surveys; and meta-analyses. The strongest research designs in alcohol services research often combine methods and sources to get different vantage points on questions about policy change.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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