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Implementation research methodologies

Implementation science employs a wide range of methodologies that originate from diverse disciplines. Below are twelve distinct research methods that contribute to implementation science. This, however, is not an exhaustive list of methods used in implementation research.

Stakeholder & Policy Analysis

The intentional integration of stakeholder perspectives and feedback in the analysis of policy advisability, execution and impact

Dissemination Research

The targeted distribution of information and intervention materials to a specific public health audience or clinical practice audience

Social Marketing

The application of marketing principals to policy selection, as well as to implementation or intervention planning and operational delivery. This is done in a reflexive and critical manner

Surveillance & Data Systems

Routine surveillance data from control and experimental groups can be used illustrate the performance or impact of new policies and programs in an environment

Impact Evaluation

Quantitative evaluations of the changes attributable to the intervention being studied. In an impact evaluation, IS aims to better understand why and how interventions work in practice

Economic Evaluation & Costing

Monetary-focused assessments evaluating system efficiency and allocation of resources to implementations, interventions, or services

Qualitative Research

The gathering of non-numerical data (interviews, focus group discussions, etc.) to understand concepts, opinions, and experiences. Examples include acceptability studies, evaluations of facilitators and barriers, etc.

Operations Research

Includes operational research modeling and systems engineering techniques

Organizational Assessment

Assessments that measure an organization’s capacity, performance, culture, climate, readiness for implementation or change, external context, and/or social networks

Systems Analysis and Improvement Approach (SAIA)

Evidence-based implementation strategy that combines system engineering tools into a five-step, facility-level package to give clinic staff and managers a system-wide view of their cascade performance, identify priority areas for improvement, discern modifiable opportunities for improvement, and test workflow modifications

Intervention Mapping

Implementation Mapping provides a systematic process for developing strategies to improve the adoption, implementation, and maintenance of evidence-based interventions in real-world settings. This iterative process begins with conducting an implementation needs assessment and concludes with evaluating implementation outcomes.

Process Mapping

Tool for assessing site context prior to implementation of an intervention/program and used to adapt implementation/evaluate the program. Process maps show the steps and flow of a process and are used in quality improvement to examine current processes and identify areas to intervene to improve quality

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For more information about these methodologies, and guidance on how to choose a study design, see: