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D&I models should be used to inform all phases of the research process, from early development of D&I research questions through to analyses and dissemination of research findings. There are many occasions when selecting just one model will not address all your needs for guiding the planning, design, implementation, and evaluation activities. Nilsen classified D&I models into five broad categories based on their primary purpose: process models, determinant frameworks, classic theories, implementation frameworks, and evaluation frameworks.[add ref] When one model does not suffice, you might decide to select multiple models and combine them. In this section, we provide you with guidance and basic principles on how best to combine multiple models.

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+/-What is the first step for combining D&I models?

The first step for combining models is to identify multiple models that may meet various aspects of your planned work. In the Select section of this website you can run multiple searches and choose models for these various purposes, using the key constructs you have identified in the Plan section

Another tool that can guide you with identifying and comparing of multiple models for D&I is T-CaST: an implementation theory comparison and selection tool.

More details about this tool can be found:
Birken, S.A., Rohweder, C.L., Powell, B.J. et al. T-CaST: an implementation theory comparison and selection tool. Implementation Sci 13, 143 (2018) doi:10.1186/s13012-018-0836-4

+/-What are some reasons to combine multiple D&I models?

Reasons you might decide to combine models include:

  • A need to have a separate model that addresses planning, design, and implementation and one that guides evaluation. A common example of this combination is to use a pure planning model such as the Diffusion of Innovations theory along with the RE-AIM framework that will guide the evaluation of the proposed work.
  • A need to expand on a quantitative measurement of outcomes with more contextual understanding. An example is the use of the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) as the contextual model better understand the quantitative outcomes informed by the RE-AIM framework.
  • One model might provide a broad and multilevel description of an issue or phenomena and another help you hone in on one specific level of this issue (e.g., provider level factors). A broadly used example is the combined use of the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) with the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF).
  • One model might help the operationalization and evaluation of another constructs from a larger model. An example is the use of the Practical Robust Implementation and Sustainability Model (PRISM) with the FRAME Adaptation and modification model that supports systematic documentation of adaptations, or the Program Sustainability Assessment Tool (PSAT) by Luke et al for guiding planning for sustainment.
  • Some cases for which you need to combine a D&I model with a more specialized model from another discipline. One such example would be to combine the Kingdon model of policy factors and Institutional Theory from the economics field that uses an interdisciplinary approach to understand how social, governmental, political, cultural, and commercial institutions influence decision-making.
  • Ref for Institutional Theory:
  • North D. Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 1990

+/-What are some important considerations when combining multiple D&I Models?

  1. Before assigning roles and operational definitions to each model, you need to address the potential need for adaptations to local context and specific purposes. The separate section on Adapt can help with these steps.
  2. Combining models can increase the complexity of your work. Usually you do not want to attempt to combine more than two models in a single study.

    1. You should clearly identify the role of model you select - each might address different issues and fit different parts of your logic model. You will need to provide a rationale for use of each model and why you chose this particular combination.
    2. You do not want to confuse reviewers or have multiple models for the same purpose (unless of course, you are specifically testing one model versus another).
    3. Some special considerations for combining models might include: Are these models used in a temporal fashion with some of the constructs playing key role in earlier and others at later phases? Do constructs from one model allow for expansion of constructs in another broader, less specialized model? Do they act at various levels of the socioecological framework?
  3. You should provide description on how and when the various constructs will be operationalized in the course of the project. The Use section can provide you with guidance on how to make sure that your models are well integrated throughout the entire project.

+/-What are some examples of combination of multiple D&I models?

What are some examples of combination of multiple D&I models?

A few publications describing common combinations of models are listed below:

  1. A review of the combined use of the CFIR and TDF:
    Birken, S.A., Powell, B.J., Presseau, J. et al. Combined use of the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) and the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF): a systematic review. Implementation Sci 12, 2 (2017)
  2. An example of how the PRISM and Stirman adaptation and modification framework have been combined:
    Rabin BA, McCreight M, Battaglia C, Ayele R, Burke RE, Hess PL, Frank JW and Glasgow RE (2018) Systematic, Multimethod Assessment of Adaptations Across Four Diverse Health Systems Interventions. Front. Public Health 6:102.
  3. An example of the integration of CFIR and RE-AIM where CFIR is used to contextualize the quantitatively measured RE-AIM outcomes:
    Damschroder LJ, Reardon CM, AuYoung M, Moin T, Datta SK, et al. Implementation findings from a hybrid III implementation-effectiveness trial of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) (2017) Implementation Sci 12(1):94.
  4. An example of the combined use of EPIS and other models including an economic perspective:
    Bowser, D., Henry, B. F., & McCollister, K. E. (2019). An Overlapping Systems Conceptual Framework to Evaluate Implementation of a Behavioral Health Intervention for Justice–Involved Youth. Health Services Insights, 12, 1178632919855037.
  5. An example of the combined use of EPIS and CFIR as complementary models to support conceptualization and evaluation:
    Hunter, S. B., Han, B., Slaughter, M. E., Godley, S. H., & Garner, B. R. (2017). Predicting evidence-based treatment sustainment: results from a longitudinal study of the Adolescent-Community Reinforcement Approach. Implementation Science, 12(1), 75.