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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Research Reports
Title: Taking account of context in population health intervention research: guidance for producers, users and funders of research
Author(s): Craig, Peter
Di Ruggiero, Erica
Frolich, Katherine L
Mykhalovskiy, Eric
White, Martin
Campbell, Rona
Cummins, Steven
Edwards, Nancy
Hunt, Kate
Kee, Frank
Loppie, Charlotte
Moore, Laurence
Ogilvie, David
Petticrew, Mark
Poland, Blake
Citation: Craig P, Di Ruggiero E, Frolich KL, Mykhalovskiy E, White M, Campbell R, Cummins S, Edwards N, Hunt K, Kee F, Loppie C, Moore L, Ogilvie D, Petticrew M & Poland B (2018) Taking account of context in population health intervention research: guidance for producers, users and funders of research. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)–National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Context Guidance Authors Group. Southampton: National Institute for Health Research.
Issue Date: Apr-2018
Date Deposited: 1-May-2018
Publisher: National Institute for Health Research
Abstract: Population health intervention research (PHIR) seeks to develop and evaluate policies, programmes and other types of interventions that may affect population health and health equity. Such interventions are strongly influenced by context – taken to refer to any feature of the circumstances in which an intervention is conceived, developed, implemented and evaluated. Understanding how interventions relate to context is critical to understanding how they work; why they sometimes fail; whether they can be successfully adapted, scaled up or translated from one context to another; why their impacts vary; and how far effects observed in one context can be generalised to others.  Concerns that context has been neglected in research to develop and evaluate population health interventions have been expressed for at least 20 years. Over this period, an increasingly comprehensive body of guidance has been developed to help with the design, conduct, reporting and appraisal of PHIR. References to context have become more frequent in recent years, as interest has grown in complex and upstream interventions, systems thinking and realist approaches to evaluation, but there remains a lack of systematic guidance for producers, users and funders of PHIR on how context should be taken into account.  This document draws together recent thinking and practical experience of addressing context within PHIR. It provides a broad, working definition of context and explains why and how context is important to PHIR. It identifies the dimensions of context that are likely to shape how interventions are conceptualised, the impacts that they have and how they can be implemented, translated and scaled up. It suggests how context should be taken into account throughout the PHIR process, from priority setting and intervention development to the design and conduct of evaluations and reporting, synthesis and knowledge exchange. It concludes by summarising the key messages for producers, users and funders of PHIR and suggesting priorities for future research. The document is meant to be used alongside existing guidance for the development, evaluation and reporting of population health interventions. We expect the guidance to evolve over time, as practice changes in the light of the guidance and experience accumulates on useful approaches.
Type: Research Report
DOI Link: 10.3310/cihr-nihr-01
Rights: © Queen’s Printer and Controller of HMSO 2018. This work was produced by Craig et al. under the terms of a commissioning contract issued by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. This issue may be freely reproduced for the purposes of private research and study and extracts (or indeed, the full report) may be included in professional journals provided that suitable acknowledgement is made and the reproduction is not associated with any form of advertising. Applications for commercial reproduction should be addressed to: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK.
Affiliation: University of Glasgow
University of Toronto
University of Montreal
York University (Canada)
University of Cambridge
University of Bristol
Queen Mary, University of London
University of Ottawa
Institute for Social Marketing
Queen's University Belfast
University of Victoria
University of Glasgow
University of Cambridge
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
University of Toronto

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