December Journal Club Feedback

The fifth meeting of the UK-IS Journal Club took place on 14th December 2021. Hosted by UK-IS Trustee Prof. Nick Sevdalis, the group reviewed The Implementation Research Logic Model: a method for planning, executing, reporting, and synthesizing implementation projects by Justin D. Smith, Dennis H. Li & Miriam R. Rafferty (2020) Implementation Science 84

The meeting was very well attended by a mix of researchers, practitioners and post-graduate students.



Numerous models, frameworks, and theories exist for specific aspects of implementation research, including for determinants, strategies, and outcomes. However, implementation research projects often fail to provide a coherent rationale or justification for how these aspects are selected and tested in relation to one another. Despite this need to better specify the conceptual linkages between the core elements involved in projects, few tools or methods have been developed to aid in this task. The Implementation Research Logic Model (IRLM) was created for this purpose and to enhance the rigor and transparency of describing the often-complex processes of improving the adoption of evidence-based interventions in healthcare delivery systems.


Published last autumn, this is an interesting merging of core evaluation methodology (theory of change/logic model) with implementation concepts. ToC methods are usually reported both within health but also elsewhere (e.g. as a guide to impact evaluations) and the fact that there is now the option to formally integrate implementation strategies and mechanisms within them is an interesting and useful development.

We discussed this as a typical, in many ways, study designed to introduce a novel implementation science tool or method, starting with initial development driven by experts and subsequently applying the newly developed tool to a series of implementation research projects to evaluate its feasibility, applicability and usefulness.

The group had some expertise of applying ‘traditional’ logic models and the wider ‘theory-of-change’ approach to outlining expected relationship and impacts within projects. Although the group had not used the implementation research logic model the group’s view was taken that such approaches are useful in articulating or hypothesising implementation components and their relationships. Such ‘theorising’ was generally viewed as a useful in structuring implementation work. The group felt that a further useful aspect of the tool is its ability to accommodate further theory within it.

The group was not clear, however, how easily or readily the tool could be applied in the context of a complex implementation project or programme. On some occasions, we felt that distinguishing between interventions and implementation strategies is not straightforward. Moreover, we discussed that implementation logic models could potentially be used alongside traditional logic models, yet this may result in the intended simplicity of a logic model approach being lost.

A wider discussion ensued, focused on how useful logic models are in spreading innovation successfully. We exchanged experiences of using such models in the context of different studies or implementation projects. A reflective observation shared by many was that often the reality of implementation is far more nonlinear than a logic model might be able to accommodate – though such methods were still seen as overall useful for research and practice.

Hosted/summarised by Nick Sevdalis.

© UK Implementation Society, 2022

All views expressed are the author's own and not those of the UK Implementation Society.

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