What is it?

Testing the intervention (or part of it) with target audiences before it is implemented. It might involve testing new services, products or programmes (or elements of them), communication messages, materials and brand names. This is likely to involve the final customer, but may also involve other stakeholders such as those responsible for service delivery. You may also want to test your data collection and evaluation methods to ensure there are no difficulties once the intervention is launched

Why do this?

There are two main reasons for pre-testing:

To refine the approach. More >

To change the approach. More >

How might you do this?

There are a number of decisions for the steering group to make at this stage, including:

What should be pre-tested?. More >

The nature of the pre-test. More >

Test delivery may be required and involves limited delivery of the intervention. For example, new clinic services could be delivered at one clinic rather than across the whole PCT; new exercise regimes could be tested at one school; or new approaches to recycling in one geographical area. More >

When testing proposals, there are a number of methods available. More >

Many research approaches can be involved in pre-testing, for example individual interviews and observation.More >


Take care when extending the results of a test market (or any research method) to the target audience as a whole. More >

Pre-testing can take place in the field and laboratory, so be aware of the pros and cons associated with each. More >

Remember that the public and other stakeholders may perceive a pre-test as unfair and unethical, for example if services are being developed in some areas and not others.

Be aware that focus groups are often maligned because their findings are used in an inappropriate way. More >


An initial pre-testing and piloting plan.

Reports (internal or commissioned) for field test or other research based evaluations.

Intended Outcome

A better understanding of the reactions of the target audience to the proposed programme/campaign (or elements of it).

A decision as to whether to modify, drop or go ahead to full launch.