Multilevel intervention research: lessons learned and pathways forward

J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2012 May;2012(44):127-33. doi: 10.1093/jncimonographs/lgs019.


This summary reflects on this monograph regarding multilevel intervention (MLI) research to 1) assess its added value; 2) discuss what has been learned to date about its challenges in cancer care delivery; and 3) identify specific ways to improve its scientific soundness, feasibility, policy relevance, and research agenda. The 12 submitted chapters, and discussion of them at the March 2011 multilevel meeting, were reviewed and discussed among the authors to elicit key findings and results addressing the questions raised at the outset of this effort. MLI research is underrepresented as an explicit focus in the cancer literature but may improve implementation of studies of cancer care delivery if they assess contextual, organizational, and environmental factors important to understanding behavioral and/or system-level interventions. The field lacks a single unifying theory, although several psychological or biological theories are useful, and an ecological model helps conceptualize and communicate interventions. MLI research designs are often complex, involving nonlinear and nonhierarchical relationships that may not be optimally studied in randomized designs. Simulation modeling and pilot studies may be necessary to evaluate MLI interventions. Measurement and evaluation of team and organizational interventions are especially needed in cancer care, as are attention to the context of health-care reform, eHealth technology, and genomics-based medicine. Future progress in MLI research requires greater attention to developing and supporting relevant metrics of level effects and interactions and evaluating MLI interventions. MLI research holds an unrealized promise for understanding how to improve cancer care delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Continuity of Patient Care* / organization & administration
  • Continuity of Patient Care* / standards
  • Continuity of Patient Care* / trends
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated* / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated* / standards
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated* / trends
  • Health Care Reform / standards
  • Health Care Reform / trends
  • Health Policy
  • Health Services Research* / methods
  • Health Services Research* / trends
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Organizational Culture
  • Patient Care Team / standards
  • Patient Care Team / trends
  • Quality of Health Care / standards
  • Quality of Health Care / trends
  • Research Design
  • United States