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Abstract Background: The evidence-base for whole school approaches aimed at improving student mental health and wellbeing remains limited. This may be due to a focus on developing and evaluating de-novo, research led interventions, while neglecting the potential of local, contextually-relevant innovation that has demonstrated acceptability and feasibility. This study reports a novel approach to modelling and refining the theory of a whole-school restorative approach, alongside plans to scale up through a national educational infrastructure in order to support robust scientific evaluation. Methods: We conducted a pragmatic formative process evaluation of a routinized whole-school restorative approach aimed at improving student mental health and wellbeing in Wales. Results: The study reports seven phases of the pragmatic formative process evaluation that researchers, policy-makers and practitioners may undertake in the development and evaluation of interventions already in routine practice: 1) identification of innovative local practice; 2) scoping review to identify intervention theory of change; antecedent and emergent contextual characteristics; implementation and outcomes; 3) establishment of a Transdisciplinary Action Research (TDAR) group; 4) co-production of intervention logic model with stakeholders; 5) confirmation of logic model with stakeholders; 6) planning for intervention refinement; and 7) planning for feasibility and outcome evaluation. The phases of this model are seen as being iterative. Conclusions: Formative, pragmatic process evaluations support researchers, policy-makers and practitioners in developing a robust scientific evidence-base for acceptable and feasible local innovation that does not have a clear evidence base. The case of a whole-school restorative approach provides an exemplar of how such an evaluation may be undertaken.

Original publication

DOI

10.21203/rs.2.20004/v1

Type

Journal article

Publication Date

03/01/2020