Implementation Research in Health: A Practical Guide


This Guide was developed by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (AHPSR) with support from the Implementation Research Platform (IRP); the IRP was formed in recognition of the need for reliable, relevant research to inform the implementation of health policies and programmes, and to ensure that needed interventions are made widely available within health systems through effective scale-up.

The Guide presents an introduction to basic concepts used in implementation research and describes the range of approaches and applications that it can be used for. The main aim of the Guide is to support the development of and demand for implementation research that is problem-focused, action-oriented and above all aligned with health system needs.

The opening chapters make the case for why implementation research is important to decision-making. They offer a workable definition of implementation research and illustrate the relevance of research to problems that are often considered to be simply administrative and provide examples of how such problems can be framed as implementation research questions. The early chapters also deal with the conduct of implementation research, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and discussing the role of implementers in the planning and designing of studies, the collection and analysis of data, as well as in the dissemination and use of results.

The second half of the Guide detail the various methods and study designs that can be used to carry out implementation research, and, using examples, illustrates the application of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method designs to answer complex questions related to implementation and scale-up. It offers guidance on conceptualizing an implementation research study from the identification of the problem, development of research questions, identification of implementation outcomes and variables, as well as the selection of the study design and methods while also addressing important questions of rigour.


Peters, D.H.; Tran, N.T.; Adam, T. Implementation Research in Health: A Practical Guide. Alliance HPSR, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland (2013) 69 pp. ISBN 978 92 4 150621 2

Implementation Research in Health: A Practical Guide

Published 1 January 2013