London Evidence Syntheses and Research Use Seminars

The EPPI Centre and The Centre for Evaluation at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) jointly host the ‘London Evidence Syntheses and Research Use Seminars’. These seminars aim to encourage discussion and information-sharing on challenges and innovations in evidence syntheses methods. 

The free of charge hybrid seminars are hosted in London but can be attended online. They take place every other month on a Wednesday between 12.30 and 13.45. They include 25-30 min presentations and plenty of time for discussion. Recordings of previous seminars:

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Next Seminar


  • Date and time: Wednesday November 15th, 2023, 12:30 - 13:45 (GMT)
  • Admission: Free and accessible online and in person.
  • Location: Manson Lecture Theatre, LSHTM, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT Get Directions
  • Online access:
  • Title: Re-orientating systematic reviews to rigorously examine what works, for whom and how: example of a realist systematic review of school-based prevention of dating and gender violence
  • Speaker: Professor Chris Bonnel, LSHTM


Session details: Conventional systematic reviews offer few insights into for whom and how interventions work. 'Realist reviews' examine such questions via examining 'context-mechanism-outcome configurations' (CMOCs) but are insufficiently rigorous in how evidence is identified, assessed and synthesised. We developed ‘realist systematic reviews’, addressing similar questions to realist reviews but using rigorous methods. We applied this to synthesising evidence on school-based prevention of dating and relationship violence (DRV) and gender-based violence (GBV). This paper reflects on overall methods and findings, drawing on papers reporting each analysis. Drawing on intervention descriptions, theories of change and process evaluations, we developed initial CMOC hypotheses: interventions triggering ‘school-transformation’ mechanisms (preventing violence by changing school environments) will achieve larger effects than those triggering ‘basic-safety’ (stopping violence by emphasising its unacceptability) or ‘positive-development’ (developing students’ broader skills and relationships) mechanisms; however, school transformation would only work in schools with high organisational capacity. We used various innovative analyses, some of which aimed to test these hypotheses and some of which were inductive, drawing on available findings to augment and refine the CMOCs. Overall, interventions were effective in reducing long-term DRV but not GBV or short-term DRV. DRV prevention occurred most effectively via the ‘basic-safety’ mechanism. ‘School-transformation’ mechanisms were more effective in preventing GBV but only in high-income countries. Impacts on long-term DRV victimisation were greater when working with a critical mass of participating girls. Impacts on long-term DRV perpetration were greater for boys. Interventions were more effective when focusing on skills, attitudes and relationships, or lacking parental involvement or victim stories. Our method provided novel insights and should be useful to policy-makers seeking the best interventions for their contexts and the most information to inform implementation.

Speaker: Chris Bonell is Professor of Public Health & Sociology in PHES/PHP. His main areas of interest are evaluation and evidence synthesis, adolescent health, and sexual health. He has previously worked at UCL, Oxford University and the Social Exclusion Unit. With colleagues he has developed various methods for building on realist methods in evaluation and evidence synthesis while still employing randomised trial and systematic review designs. 


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