Brender J. Handbook of Evaluation Methods for Health Informatics. New York: Academic Press, ISBN 10: 0-12-370464-2, 2006. 361pp.

The handbook is an encyclopaedia on methods for evaluation of IT-based systems and solutions within healthcare. It has the nature of an encyclopedia, since it takes a (critical) meta-view on an extensive list of evaluation methods focusing on their areas of application, assumptions for application, tacit built-in perspectives as well as their perils and pitfalls, rather than putting emphasis on detailed cookbook prescriptions for application. It complements and completes the existing literature. In particular, it extends the literature where authors of methods often fail to deliver appropriate and sufficient information, by analysing and discussing assumptions for application, as well as pitfalls and perils at application for each and every method.

Emphasis is entirely on user assessment of the IT-system within its organizational environment - that is, methods addressing interactions between the technical construct and its organizational, psychological and social counterparts, as well as its effects. The methods have been gathered from disciplines ranging from psychology and social science to computer science and health informatics. Some of the methods are not designed as dedicated evaluation methods, but may be valuable as supportive means in an evaluation context. Thus, in these cases situational method engineering will be needed, thereby putting demands on the methodical and methodological skills of the evaluator.

The book describes terminologies, theories and frameworks behind the analysis of the methods that led to the information included. It guides the target users through the process of identifying relevant methods corresponding to their specific information needs and conditions for carrying out the evaluation study. A separate part reviews known perils and pitfalls at experimental studies. Also included are an extensive list of annotated references, including good case studies and similarly an annotated list of relevant web-sites.

It is intended for healthcare people in general (from administators to physicians and nurses, IT-professionals, etc., as well as their consultants) involved in the implementation, operation and maintenance of IT-based solutions. The level is ‘advanced’, as experience with project work, system development and design of experimental studies is required.