Background: Implementation fidelity refers to the degree to which an intervention or programme is delivered as intended. Only by understanding and measuring whether an intervention has been implemented with fidelity can researchers and practitioners gain a better understanding of how and why an intervention works, and the extent to which outcomes can be improved.
Discussion: The authors undertook a critical review of existing conceptualisations of implementation fidelity and developed a new conceptual framework for understanding and measuring the process. The resulting theoretical framework requires testing by empirical research.
Summary: Implementation fidelity is an important source of variation affecting the credibility and utility of research. The conceptual framework presented here offers a means for measuring this variable and understanding its place in the process of intervention implementation.