Developing and evaluating complex healthcare interventions in geriatrics: the use of the medical research council framework exemplified on a complex fall prevention intervention

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2010 Nov;58(11):2212-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03108.x. Epub 2010 Oct 5.


Geriatrics focuses on a variety of multiorgan problems in a heterogeneous older population. Therefore, most geriatric healthcare interventions are complex interventions. The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) has developed a framework to systematically design, evaluate, and implement complex interventions. This article provides an overview of this framework and illustrates its use in geriatrics by showing how it was used to develop and evaluate a fall prevention intervention. The consecutive phases of the framework are described: Phase I: Development. This phase began with a literature review, which provided the existing evidence and the theoretical understanding of the process of change. This understanding was further developed through focus groups with experts and interviews with patients and caregivers. The intervention was modeled using qualitative testing of the preliminary intervention through focus groups and through the completion of Delphi surveys by independent specialists. Phase II: Feasibility and piloting. In this phase, a pilot study was conducted in a group of patients and caregivers. The feasibility of the intervention and evaluation was also discussed in focus groups of participants and instructors. Phase III: Evaluation. The information from phases I and II shaped the design of a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of the intervention. Phase IV: Dissemination. The purpose of the final phase is to examine the implementation of the intervention into practice. The MRC framework provides an innovative and useful methodology for the development and evaluation of complex geriatric interventions that deserves greater dissemination and implementation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Geriatrics*
  • Health Services Research*
  • Health Services for the Aged / organization & administration*
  • Health Services for the Aged / standards
  • Humans
  • United Kingdom