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Methodological Innovation in Public Health Intervention Science


Interventions to improve population health and reduce health inequalities typically take place in highly complex social systems, such as schools, social care systems or neighbourhoods. Developing evidence and theory informed interventions within these complex systems, evaluating how these affect the lives of children and young people, and understanding how findings from evaluation can be replicated in routine practice, can be highly challenging.

The DECIPHer methodology programme focuses on developing methodological guidance, and advancing methodological innovation, for the development, evaluation and implementation of interventions to improve health and wellbeing. DECIPHer has a long-standing track record as a world-leader in methodological guidance and innovation including development of methods guidance on process evaluation, discussion pieces on complex systems intervention science and use of routine data within trials and natural experiments, and case studies of methodological innovation including a framework for co-producing and prototyping interventions.

The programme aims are achieved through four primary mechanisms:

1. “Methods” research, including Medical Research Council funded studies focused on the development of methodological guidance;

2. Case studies of methodological innovation within intervention studies, including development studies, natural experimental evaluations using routine data, randomised controlled trials and implementation research;

3. Publication of editorials and methodological ‘think-pieces’ to generate discussion around ways forward for intervention research;

4. A programme of internationally recognised methodology short course teaching delivered to researchers, practitioners and policy makers.

Recent, current and future areas of research within this programme include development of guidance for adapting complex interventions to new contexts and methods for public involvement and case studies of methodological innovation in implementation science, systems science and the use of routine data. Our recent guidance on adapting interventions to new contexts is being widely used internationally, including in the IMPACT study, which is using the guidance to adapt interventions from the US to improve quality of life people with dementia and their carers in Peru.

DECIPHer-adopted projects in Methodological Innovation in Public Health Intervention Science: