Roen, Katrina; Arai, Lisa; Roberts, Helen and Popay, Jennie
Extending systematic reviews to include evidence on implementation: Methodological work on a review of community-based initiatives to prevent injuries.
Social Science and Medicine, 63(4),
Unintentional injury is a leading cause of mortality and disability among young and old. While evidence about the effectiveness of interventions in reducing injuries is accumulating, reviews of this evidence frequently fail to include details of implementation processes. Our research, of which the work reported here formed a part, had two main objectives: (1) to identify evidence about the implementation of interventions aimed at reducing unintentional injuries amongst children and young people; and (2) to explore methods for systematically reviewing evidence on implementation. Existing systematic reviews of the effectiveness of interventions aiming to reduce unintentional injuries in children and young people formed the starting point for the work reported here. In summary, many of the published papers we identified contained little information on implementation processes and, even when these were discussed, the extent to which authors’ claims were based on research evidence was unclear. On the basis of the studies we reviewed implementation data were insufficiently strong to provide a sound evidence base for practitioners and policymakers. Notwithstanding this, we identified valuable data about the context in which such initiatives are implemented and the type of factors that might impinge on implementation. This work has implications in three areas: (1) researchers with an interest in evidence-based public health could be encouraged to consider implementation issues in the design of intervention studies; (2) funding bodies could be encouraged to prioritise intervention studies using mixed methods that will enable researchers to consider effectiveness and implementation; (3) journal editors could work towards increasing the quality of reporting on implementation issues through the development of guidelines.
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