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Table 1 Five categories of theories, models and frameworks used in implementation science

From: Making sense of implementation theories, models and frameworks

Category Description Examples
Process models Specify steps (stages, phases) in the process of translating research into practice, including the implementation and use of research. The aim of process models is to describe and/or guide the process of translating research into practice. An action model is a type of process model that provides practical guidance in the planning and execution of implementation endeavours and/or implementation strategies to facilitate implementation. Note that the terms “model” and “framework” are both used, but the former appears to be the most common Model by Huberman [40], model by Landry et al. [41], model by Davies et al. [43], model by Majdzadeh et al. [44], the CIHR Model of Knowledge Translation [42], the K2A Framework [15], the Stetler Model [47], the ACE Star Model of Knowledge Transformation [48], the Knowledge-to-Action Model [13], the Iowa Model [49,50], the Ottawa Model [51,52], model by Grol and Wensing [53], model by Pronovost et al. [54], the Quality Implementation Framework [27]
Determinant frameworks Specify types (also known as classes or domains) of determinants and individual determinants, which act as barriers and enablers (independent variables) that influence implementation outcomes (dependent variables). Some frameworks also specify relationships between some types of determinants. The overarching aim is to understand and/or explain influences on implementation outcomes, e.g. predicting outcomes or interpreting outcomes retrospectively PARIHS [5,64], Active Implementation Frameworks [63,68], Understanding-User-Context Framework [62], Conceptual Model [17], framework by Grol et al. [22], framework by Cochrane et al. [59], framework by Nutley et al. [21], Ecological Framework by Durlak and DuPre [57], CFIR [60], framework by Gurses et al. [58], framework by Ferlie and Shortell [61], Theoretical Domains Framework [66]
Classic theories Theories that originate from fields external to implementation science, e.g. psychology, sociology and organizational theory, which can be applied to provide understanding and/or explanation of aspects of implementation Theory of Diffusion [107], social cognitive theories, theories concerning cognitive processes and decision making, social networks theories, social capital theories, communities of practice, professional theories, organizational theories
Implementation theories Theories that have been developed by implementation researchers (from scratch or by adapting existing theories and concepts) to provide understanding and/or explanation of aspects of implementation Implementation Climate [116], Absorptive Capacity [117], Organizational Readiness [118], COM-B [119], Normalization Process Theory [120]
Evaluation frameworks Specify aspects of implementation that could be evaluated to determine implementation success RE-AIM [124]; PRECEDE-PROCEED [125]; framework by Proctor et al. [126]
  1. ACE Academic Center for Evidence-Based Practice, CFIR Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research, CIHR Canadian Institutes of Health Research Knowledge, COM-B Capacity-Opportunities-Motivation-Behaviour, Conceptual Model Conceptual Model for Considering the Determinants of Diffusion, Dissemination, and Implementation of Innovations in Health Service Delivery and Organization (full title), K2A Knowledge-to-Action, PARIHS Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services, PRECEDE-PROCEED Predisposing, Reinforcing and Enabling Constructs in Educational Diagnosis and Evaluation-Policy, Regulatory, and Organizational Constructs in Educational and Environmental Development, RE-AIM Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance.