Research design issues for evaluating complex multicomponent interventions in neighborhoods and communities

Transl Behav Med. 2016 Mar;6(1):153-9. doi: 10.1007/s13142-015-0358-4.


Major advances in population health will not occur unless we translate existing knowledge into effective multicomponent interventions, implement and maintain these in communities, and develop rigorous translational research and evaluation methods to ensure continual improvement and sustainability. We discuss challenges and offer approaches to evaluation that are key for translational research stages 3 to 5 to advance optimized adoption, implementation, and maintenance of effective and replicable multicomponent strategies. The major challenges we discuss concern (a) multiple contexts of evaluation/research, (b) complexity of packages of interventions, and (c) phases of evaluation/research questions. We suggest multiple alternative research designs that maintain rigor but accommodate these challenges and highlight the need for measurement systems. Longitudinal data collection and a standardized continuous measurement system are fundamental to the evaluation and refinement of complex multicomponent interventions. To be useful to T3-T5 translational research efforts in neighborhoods and communities, such a system would include assessments of the reach, implementation, effects on immediate outcomes, and effects of the comprehensive intervention package on more distal health outcomes.

Keywords: Complex intervention; Evaluation design; Health; Translational research; Well-being.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Environment
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods
  • Research Design
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / methods*