UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Developing a framework to inform scale-up success for population health interventions: a critical interpretive synthesis of the literature Nguyen, Duyen T K; McLaren, Lindsay; Oelke, Nelly; McIntyre, Lynn


Background: Population health interventions (PHIs) have the potential to improve the health of large populations by systematically addressing underlying conditions of poor health outcomes (i.e., social determinants of health) and reducing health inequities. Scaling-up may be one means of enhancing the impact of effective PHIs. However, not all scale-up attempts have been successful. In an attempt to help guide the process of successful scale-up of a PHI, we look to the organizational readiness for change theory for a new perspective on how we may better understand the scale-up pathway. Using the change theory, our goal was to develop the foundations of an evidence-based, theory-informed framework for a PHI, through a critical examination of various PHI scale-up experiences documented in the literature. Methods: We conducted a multi-step, critical interpretive synthesis (CIS) to gather and examine insights from scale-up experiences detailed in peer-reviewed and grey literatures, with a focus on PHIs from a variety of global settings. The CIS included iterative cycles of systematic searching, sampling, data extraction, critiquing, interpreting, coding, reflecting, and synthesizing. Theories relevant to innovations, complexity, and organizational readiness guided our analysis and synthesis. Results: We retained and examined twenty different PHI scale-up experiences, which were extracted from 77 documents (47 peer-reviewed, 30 grey literature) published between 1995 and 2013. Overall, we identified three phases (i.e., Groundwork, Implementing Scale-up, and Sustaining Scale-up), 11 actions, and four key components (i.e., PHI, context, capacity, stakeholders) pertinent to the scale-up process. Our guiding theories provided explanatory power to various aspects of the scale-up process and to scale-up success, and an alternative perspective to the assessment of scale-up readiness for a PHI. Conclusion: Our synthesis provided the foundations of the Scale-up Readiness Assessment Framework. Our theoretically-informed and rigorous synthesis methodology permitted identification of disparate processes involved in the successful scale-up of a PHI. Our findings complement the guidance and resources currently available, and offer an added perspective to assessing scale-up readiness for a PHI.

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