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Table 1 Theories that will be used to analyse different domains within the research program

From: Dynamics behind the scale up of evidence-based obesity prevention: protocol for a multi-site case study of an electronic implementation monitoring system in health promotion practice

Aspect of the research Theory Focus of the theory Use and significance
Describe the diversity of teams and practice contexts within which PHIMS is used (Objective 1) Social network theory. Borgatti and Halgin [48] The social structure within which a practitioner is placed may influence the way they work. The network size, the centrality of key players and the density of ties might correspond to different PHIMS-use styles and also to the intensity of work needed to achieve targets.
Describing and understanding how the data from PHIMs on KPI achievement came into being and is used at high levels in the state bureaucracy (Objectives 2, 3, 7) Institutional theory. Scott et al. [49] Concerned with how the most deep and resilient aspects of social structures are created and maintained by schemas, rules, behaviours, routines. Will be used to design interviews with high-level bureaucrats to characterise and understand the role of key actors, structures, resources and symbols in building legitimacy and authority for health promotion in an otherwise clinically dominated sector
Appreciate how PHIMS sits alongside other methods to structure, organise, record and manage health promotion practice at the local level (Objective 4) Complex adaptive systems thinking. Axelrod and Cohen [50] Recognises that agents in a system (practitioners) are constantly adapting to changing conditions and inventing ways to respond. Will sensitise researchers to observe how PHIMS may be grafted onto existing self-organised structures or vice versa (‘work-arounds’). The tendency for complex adaptive systems to (constantly) reorganise could potentially be harnessed for continuous practice improvement.
Understanding how PHIMS interacts with the process of practice and how roles, routines and activities are created and how data are used (Objective 5) Activity setting theory. O’Donnell et al. [51] Examines the everyday settings where the dynamic interaction of people and physical objects produces regular scripts or behaviours. Will sensitise researchers to observe the roles and symbols created by PHIMS and how practice time is impacted by PHIMS use. The theory suggests that PHIMS' embedding may be reflected in these key dimensions.
Practice theory. Feldman and Orlikowski [52],Bourdieu [53],Gherardi [54],Gherardi [55] Recurrent actions that create the experience of organisational reality. Describes how members of a community are socialised into a workplace or profession. To sensitise researchers to the ways that PHIMS sits within broader ‘taken-for-granted’ ways of working, and how health promotion as a practice takes shape and is constantly renegotiated.
Normalisation process theory. May [56],May et al. [57] How a new organisational practice, classification, technique or artefact becomes routine. Recognises implementation as a social process of collective action. Will sensitise researchers to specific mechanisms such as the ‘talk’ that accompanies use of PHIMS and how this represents making sense of PHIMS, creating collective collaborative work and encouraging reflexive monitoring of practice.
Articulate what matters most to health promotion practitioners—the values, attitudes and actions that most ‘define’ best practice (Objective 6) Worldview theory. Geertz [58],Rapport and Overing [59] A person or group's picture of how things are—self, society and the nature of things. Will sensitise researchers to observe behaviours that demonstrate values (e.g. choice to go slowly on KPI achievement if there is an immediate gain that is valued more highly such as trust and relationship building with a school).