Grounding a new information technology implementation framework in behavioral science: a systematic analysis of the literature on IT use

J Biomed Inform. 2003 Jun;36(3):218-27. doi: 10.1016/j.jbi.2003.09.002.


Many interventions to improve the success of information technology (IT) implementations are grounded in behavioral science, using theories, and models to identify conditions and determinants of successful use. However, each model in the IT literature has evolved to address specific theoretical problems of particular disciplinary concerns, and each model has been tested and has evolved using, in most cases, a more or less restricted set of IT implementation procedures. Functionally, this limits the perspective for taking into account the multiple factors at the individual, group, and organizational levels that influence use behavior. While a rich body of literature has emerged, employing prominent models such as the Technology Adoption Model, Social-Cognitive Theory, and Diffusion of Innovation Theory, the complexity of defining a suitable multi-level intervention has largely been overlooked. A gap exists between the implementation of IT and the integration of theories and models that can be utilized to develop multi-level approaches to identify factors that impede usage behavior. We present a novel framework that is intended to guide synthesis of more than one theoretical perspective for the purpose of planning multi-level interventions to enhance IT use. This integrative framework is adapted from PRECEDE/PROCEDE, a conceptual framework used by health planners in hundreds of published studies to direct interventions that account for the multiple determinants of behavior. Since we claim that the literature on IT use behavior does not now include a multi-level approach, we undertook a systematic literature analysis to confirm this assertion. Our framework facilitated organizing this literature synthesis and our analysis was aimed at determining if the IT implementation approaches in the published literature were characterized by an approach that considered at least two levels of IT usage determinants. We found that while 61% of studies mentioned or referred to theory, none considered two or more levels. In other words, although the researchers employ behavioral theory, they omit two fundamental propositions: (1) IT usage is influenced by multiple factors and (2) interventions must be multi-dimensional. Our literature synthesis may provide additional insight into the reason for high failure rates associated with underutilized systems, and underscores the need to move beyond the current dominant approach that employs a single model to guide IT implementation plans that aim to address factors associated with IT acceptance and subsequent positive use behavior.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Computers*
  • Behavioral Sciences / methods*
  • Behavioral Sciences / statistics & numerical data
  • Biotechnology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Information Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Periodicals as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical / methods*
  • Technology Transfer*