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Realist review: an introductory workshop

Date and Location




Friday 20 September 2013 - 15:30 - 17:00


Contact persons and facilitators

Contact person

Geoff Wong


Margaret Cargo
Janet Harris
Justin Jagosh
Mark Pearson
Joanne Greenhalgh
Target audience

Target audience

This workshop is suitable for researchers interested in learning about the principles underlying realist reviews. No preparation or prior experience required.

Is your workshop restricted to a specific audience or open to all Colloquium participants?


Level of knowledge required

Type of workshop

Type of workshop

Abstract text


Objectives: -Explain the logic and key ingredients of realist review -Practice applying realist logic -Explore when and why realist review is useful -Address participants' questions concerning realist review Description: Synthesising evidence on many healthcare and public health interventions is challenging as they are ‘complex’-consisting of long implementation chains, multiple components that interact independently, inter-dependently and/or non-linearly with emergent effects and context dependent outcomes. One approach to making sense of complex interventions is by using theory. Realist review identifies and refines theories that explain how and why outcomes occur. Specifically it seeks to unpack and understand causation using a realist philosophical lens. Briefly, causation is generative-outcomes occur because mechanisms cause them to. Context influences if a mechanism is triggered and interventions and/or programmes work through altering context. In this workshop we will explain what realism and a realist review is, when it might be used and provide attendees with hands on 'practice'. Structured workshop plan: -Introductions and objectives: 5 minutes presentation -What is realism? 10 plus 10 minutes for questions -What is a realist review? 10 plus 10 minutes for questions -Practice applying realist logic: 20 minutes-in small facilitated groups -Feedback to larger group: 20 minutes -Summary and closing: 5 minutes