Implementation Research

Illustration of a human sitting on a boat. Below, two dolphins are swimming with a school of fish


This research approach aims to systematically understand what, why, and how interventions work in real world settings and to test approaches to improve them. Researchers explore how an evidence-based practice is implemented, as well as the factors that impact to what extent implementation delivers the intended effects of an intervention. It pays attention to the various contexts of an intervention, as well as the stakeholders involved, with a special emphasis on the structure of the health system. Implementation research is applied at various levels from national to local, and in varying areas ranging from policy to service delivery. It uses both quantitative and qualitative methods, but this tool only focuses on the latter. 

Primary objective

This approach is especially useful when there is a need to analyze the context in which an intervention is implemented and its impact on performance.


Low value

Anticipate how problem definition and user needs might shape implementation

Design, implementation and evaluation

Low value

Explore how intervention design could impact implementation processes

Primary value

Understand and quantify the impact specific contextual factors of the implementation have on the performance of an intervention.

Adoption & scale

Medium value

Inform how an intervention may need to be modified for optimal performance in new contexts and what measures need to be put in place for optimal performance.

Unique attributes

Strength in understanding a specific intervention and how it is implemented, linked to but separate from evaluating the intervention’s performance.

Biased towards evidence generation for the users of the research, rather than academic knowledge production.

Aims to remain objective through the systematic evaluation of intervention implementation in real-world settings.