From Theory to Patient Care: A Model for the Development, Adaptation, and Testing of Psychosocial Interventions for Patients With Serious Illness

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2021 Sep;62(3):637-646. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2021.02.036. Epub 2021 Mar 5.


Psychosocial and supportive care interventions are a cornerstone of palliative care science, yet there is little published guidance regarding how to develop, test, adapt, and ultimately disseminate evidence-based interventions. Our objective was to describe the application of a single intervention-development model in multiple populations of patients with serious illness. Specifically, we use the "Promoting Resilience in Stress Management" (PRISM) intervention as an exemplar for how the Obesity Related Behavioral Intervention Trials (ORBIT) intervention-development model may be applied to: 1) create an initial palliative care intervention; 2) adapt an existing intervention for a new patient-population; 3) expand an existing intervention to include new content; and, 4) consider dissemination and implementation of a research-proven intervention. We began by identifying key psychological and social science theories and translating them a testable clinical hypothesis. Next, we conducted observational studies and randomized trials to design, refine, and standardize PRISM within unique patient-populations. We moved backwards in the ORBIT model when necessary to adapt or expand PRISM content and delivery-strategies to meet patient-reported needs. Finally, we began to explore PRISM's effectiveness using Dissemination and Implementation research methods. Key lessons include the need to ground intervention-development in evidence-based theory; involve patient, clinician, and other stakeholders at every phase of development; "meet patients where they are at" with flexible delivery strategies; invest in the time to find the right scientific premise and the right intervention content; and, perhaps most importantly, involve an interdisciplinary research team.

Keywords: Intervention; clinical trial; palliative care; psychosocial; resilience.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Palliative Care*
  • Psychosocial Intervention*