Skip header navigation


Identifying and critiquing different approaches to developing complex interventions

Principal Investigator: University of Sheffield

NMAHP Research Unit Collaborators:  Professor Pat Hoddinott, Dr Edward Duncan 

External Collaborators:  Croot L - University of Sheffield, Turner K - University of Bristol, Yardley L - University of Southampton


To produce guidance for researchers on how to develop complex interventions to improve health or healthcare outcomes.


  1. Identify and describe the different approaches taken to intervention development, the rationales for their use, and any implications for the future utility of the interventions.
  2. Compare and contrast different intervention development approaches, and their methods of data collection and analysis, considering strengths and limitations overall and for different contexts.
  3. Understand the history and challenges of intervention development from the perspectives of experienced researchers and wider stakeholders.
  4. Measure stakeholder consensus on the key aspects of intervention development and explore the reasons for any lack of consensus.
  5. Offer guidance to researchers on good practice, with examples from different approaches.


Researchers, the public, patients, industry, charities and healthcare providers can all be involved in the development or design of new interventions to improve health and healthcare. There is increasing recognition of the importance of carefully developing and evaluating complex interventions so that there is an increased chance of interventions being effective within trials, and being adopted widely in the real world.

The INDEX project builds on the methodological expertise in intervention development of the Unit’s Pat Hoddinott and Edward Duncan (stroke rehabilitation).  The collaboration arose through the CONDUCT II MRC funded methods for trials hub [M01.4, M01.6] and links to Pat Hoddinott’s guest editor role on BMC Pilot and Feasibility Studies to host a series on intervention development (Hoddinott P.  A new era for intervention development studies.  Pilot and Feasibility Studies. 2015; 1:36DOI: 10.1186/s40814-015-0032-0).

INDEX has three phases: systematic reviews of the methodological literature and primary intervention development research; qualitative interview study led by Pat Hoddinott with researchers engaged in intervention development and wider stakeholders (directors of funding boards, PPI on funding panels, policy decision makers and journal editors); and reaching consensus using a Delphi approach led by Edward Duncan and using an e-platform he developed Computing Science at University of Stirling.

Scroll back to the top