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A checklist to describe intervention and context features in HSDR research proposals


Published: 25 October 2022

Version: 1.2 October 2022

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When applying to the NIHR Health and Social Care Delivery Research (HSDR) Programme it is important to consider specific intervention and contextual features. Many of these will be staff-based and different in kind from the therapeutic or clinical interventions evaluated in other research programmes. A common criticism from the funding board is that these initiatives are not well specified. A checklist was developed for researchers when working up proposals, with prompts to consider different aspects of complex service interventions and context. This has been designed as a prompt for researchers and we would welcome feedback on how useful and relevant it is to you.

Find out more about the development of the checklist


Is it clear which organisation(s) are involved in the study? Has the proposal considered:

  • How many study sites? How do these differ?
  • How big is the organisation?
  • What type of trust or authority is involved? E.g. Acute trust, ambulance trust, CCG, local authority, care trusts, mental health trusts, etc.
  • Other information on organisational type E.g. foundation trust status, teaching/research beacon site, CQC or other ratings if relevant


Is it clear where the organisation is located? Has the proposal considered:

  • What type of area it is e.g. urban, rural, deprivation etc.
  • What are the population demographics?

Patient group

Is it clear what the case mix is of patients? Has the proposal considered:

  • Who is receiving the intervention?
  • How many patients are being seen?
  • The characteristics of the patients e.g. age group, health status, disease area.

Workforce and staffing

Is it clear who are the main actors involved in service delivery? Has the proposal considered:

  • Is the total workforce clearly described? E.g. are the skill, grade and profession mix stated?
  • How have the staff been selected? Are they already working at the organisation or are they new to the organisation?
  • What if any training will be needed for staff to deploy the intervention?


Is there enough information about the service or intervention under exploration/examination? Has the proposal considered:

  • How is the intervention different from usual care?
  • What does it consist of? What does it ‘look’ like?
  • Is it clear when the intervention started and finished?
  • If there are information materials are these adequately described?
  • If there is a training programme, are there clear details?

Other important contextual information

Are there any other contextual aspects which may affect the outcomes of this research and generalisability to other sites? For instance, are there particular:

  • Policy initiatives related to the intervention (such as national or regional patient safety or improvement initiatives)
  • Particular issues at the study sites around exceptional leadership, for instance championing by nurse director or clinical team
  • Local features such as unusual geographical or service configuration
  • Events at the site, such as a critical safety incident or top team re-shuffle