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An Innovation Platform to Strengthen Primary Health Care Systems for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: A Methodologically Pluralist Evaluation

Project Summary

Innovation platforms bring together diverse stakeholders to exchange ideas about addressing challenging problems. The inherent complex nature of innovation platforms poses challenges for evaluators, and although it is recommended that multiple evaluation methods be used, this is not commonly done in practice. In this study we used a methodologically pluralist approach to evaluate and iteratively refine an innovation platform to strengthen primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The pluralist design used four evaluation approaches—developmental evaluation, principles-focused evaluation, network analysis, and framework analysis.

Our Investigators

  • Dr Jodie Bailie
  • Dr Alison Laycock
  • Associate Professor Veronica Matthews
  • Professor Ross Bailie
  • Professor Megan Passey
  • Dr Kathleen Conte


  • Professor Roxanne Bainbridge, University of Queensland
  • Professor David Peiris, University of New South Wales
  • Associate Professor Seye Abimbola, University of Sydney



What were the key findings?

The methodologically pluralist evaluation of an innovation platform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander quality improvement in primary health care yielded a nuanced understanding of a complex intervention that would have been difficult to achieve with any single evaluation method. When multiple methods produce similar findings on a singular topic, these findings are further strengthened, contributing to the rigor of the evaluation. As such, each sub-study, individually and combined, was able to open the ‘black box’ of the innovation platform, informing its formation and iteratively assessing its functions and outcomes. We demonstrated the value of emergent and innovative evaluation methods, with a particular emphasis on participatory approaches. Such methods can enhance our understanding of the impact that complex interventions have on strengthening health systems and providing high quality care for all.