(IdentifyiNg and assessing different approaches to DEveloping compleX interventions)


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The aim of this study was to produce guidance for researchers on how to develop complex interventions to improve health or health care outcomes. The objectives were to: 1. Identify and describe the different approaches taken to intervention development, the rationales for their use, and any implications for the future utility of the interventions. 2. Compare and contrast different intervention development approaches, the methods of data collection and analysis they used, considering strengths and limitations overall and for different contexts. 3. Understand the history and challenges of intervention development from the perspectives of experienced researchers and wider stakeholders e.g. research funders, public and patient representatives. 4. Measure stakeholder consensus on the key aspects of intervention development and explore the reasons for any lack of consensus. 5. Offer guidance to researchers on good practice, with examples from different approaches.

The design was a sequential mixed methods study in 3 phases. In phase 1 we undertook three systematic reviews of literature on intervention development. The first identified different approaches and methods in primary intervention research and expert description and critiques. The second was an in-depth analysis of the application of primary intervention development research to improve health or health care outcomes. The third was a review of a sample of successful interventions and the intervention development approaches they used. In phase 2 we identified the challenges of intervention development in a qualitative interview study, and considered with stakeholders how to bring together the learning from our data collection. In phase 3 we undertook a consensus exercise to identify core aspects of intervention development.


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PI: prof. Alicia O’Cathain – University of Sheffield


dr. Elizabeth Croot – University of Sheffield
dr. Edward Duncan – University of Stirling
prof. Pat Hoddinott – University of Stirling
prof. Lucy Yardley – University of Southampton   
dr. Katrina Turner - University of Bristol

University of Stirling Researcher: dr. Nikki Rousseau

University of Sheffield Researcher: dr. Katie Sworn

Administrative Assistant: Veronica Fibisan – Sheffield


For further details about this study, please contact Veronica Fibisan, administrator assistant at