Research and evaluation

Childsmile is subject to a comprehensive evaluation supported by funding from the Scottish Government Health Department. The evaluation is led by a Central Evaluation and Research Team (CERT) based at the University of Glasgow Dental School.

Principal aims

Key evaluation questions include: whether the programme can improve health and oral health; whether it can reduce health-related inequalities and if so, which components of the intervention are responsible for the biggest sustained improvements.

Evaluation strategy

The evaluation for the integrated Childsmile programme consolidates and builds upon previous evaluation work developed in the East and West of Scotland during the early demonstration phases for Childsmile Nursery and Childsmile Practice. It comprises a multi-faceted, multi-level approach which documents and supports Childsmile’s ongoing development and implementation, assessing its impact across Scotland’s 14 NHS Boards. This necessitates a systematic and coordinated approach which makes best use of evaluation resources and capacity.

Due to the ongoing development and roll-out of the integrated Childsmile programme, an evolving model of evaluation is appropriate. This allows the evaluation to be responsive to issues emerging from Childsmile’s implementation and develops the programme as a result of the evaluation findings.

Methods used in the evaluation:

  • Formative - to improve the programme
  • Summative - to assess its impact

The outcome evaluation is designed to assess Childsmile’s impact on dental services, oral and general health outcomes. Evaluation activity includes the collection of routine monitoring data across multiple agencies and the development of supportive IT systems. Childsmile data is linked with national data sets using the Community Heath Index (CHI) number. An economic evaluation is underway and a thorough process evaluation is nested within the evaluation to assess fidelity and quality of implementation, explore the mechanisms of change underlying the intervention and identify how contextual factors interact with outcomes. Protocols for data sharing, data security, ethics and clinical governance have required multi-agency agreement and coordination.

For more information, take a look at the structure and organisation of the evaluation approach.