Strategies To Select D&I Models

Selecting a model for your D&I project is one of the most important and complex issues in conducting D&I science. Below are some tips to help you Select a model.

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+/-Is there one ‘right’ model for my project?

Generally, there is not one right model for a project. Instead, multiple factors should be considered to decide what are some possible models that fit your project well and what are the considerations you need take into account to decide the pros and cons of each model. It also needs to be acknowledged that “fit” is a somewhat subjective concept and in practice is often decided based on precedent or in other words whether a model has been used in the past for a similar project or context.

In some cases, one model will not be sufficient to meet your needs and you decide to pick two or more models. The Combine section of this webtool can guide you when and how you might choose to combine multiple models.

A model you choose might not be a perfect fit for your study and adaptations to the model are needed. The Adapt section of the webtool can guide you through adaptations and provide you with examples on how models can be adapted to the context of your project.

+/-What are some key considerations to decide what model fits your project?

A number of factors can help you decide whether a model will be a good fit for your project. These factors include what key constructs of your project are included in the model, what levels of the socio-ecological framework are considered by the model, what is the D&I purpose of the model (i.e. dissemination, implementation, or both), and whether the model has been used in the content area and/or context of your project.

+/-Which of the key constructs from your project are covered by the model?

Ensuring that there is a match between the key constructs of your D&I project and the constructs in a model is probably the single, most important issue in selecting a model. While it is unusual to have a model to address all your key constructs, the more key constructs from your project are covered by a model, the more likely it is to serve your needs.

The Search function of this webtool allows you to identify models that include certain constructs. To make your search most useful, WE RECOMMEND that you initially limit the number of constructs you enter to 5 or fewer. Otherwise, the number of models returned can be overwhelming. The results from the search will be organized by the degree of fit with models that matched on the most constructs you selected will be listed on the top and those with less construct matched further down.

+/-How ‘focused’ is the model on the key issues in your project?

While finding models that include the key constructs of your project is very important, the overall focus of the model on the issues you are most concerned about should also be considered during model selection. Models vary tremendously in their scope and focus and some of them contain many constructs (some over 20). So even if a model addresses the top five key constructs from your project, if there are 20 other constructs in the model on factors less relevant to your work, that model might not be the best ‘fit’ or will not be easy to operationalize fully.

+/-What is the socio-ecologic level(s) of your project?

D&I projects vary widely across different levels of context and focus (e.g., individual level participants (or patients); delivery staff who deliver an intervention of program; a supervisor or manager responsible for a project; the organization within which a program is conducted; and the community within which your research occurs). D&I projects commonly address multiple socio-ecologic levels. Models will vary on how many and which levels of the socio-ecological framework they address. The Search section of this webtool allows you to select all or some of the levels depending on how broad you need your model to be.

+/-What is the D&I purpose of your project?

D&I models vary in their emphasis on dissemination (packaging, transporting, and scaling up evidence-based interventions to many sites or national or global levels) versus focus on the implementation on an evidence-based interventions within specific settings. The Search section of this webtool will help you select a model that best meets your needs in this area. A word of caution - it is tricky to classify a model according to its emphasis on dissemination versus implementation and over time applications change across these categories. Use this option more as guidance rather than a constraint.

+/-How much has a model been used, especially in your content area?

Another factor to consider, but not to overemphasize is the extent to which a model has been used in the published literature and if it has been used in your topic area. Some models can be considered tried and true. The advantage of using models that have been used in the past especially in a context and/or for a project similar to yours is that they can provide you with examples on how the model can be adapted and operationalized in a project. Furthermore, a model that has been used frequently is more likely to have a set of measures to consider for your study. When using models that have been used before in your context and/or topic area, you can also contribute to the D&I literature by helping refine these models. On the other hand, there is certainly room for innovation, especially for application of models from other disciplines that can provide novel insights.

Results from your search of D&I models will provide you with the number of citations for the key publications of a model since 2016. Results within each ‘degree of fit’ (number of constructs matches – see more under Which of the key constructs from your project are covered by the model?) are listed by number of citations. For each model, field of origin is also provided as well as example applications of the model.

+/-What are some tools available to compare potential models?

There are a few tools that are available to help you compare models that seem like good candidates:

  1. ) In this webtool, on the View All D&I Models page you can select a sub-set of models and compare them on key characteristics.
  2. ) Another tool that can guide you with identifying and comparing multiple models for D&I is T-CaST: an implementation theory comparison and selection tool.