Intervention optimisation and implementation

Research theme leads

  • Jeremy Horwood, Associate Professor (University of Bristol & ARC West)
  • Charles Beck, Dr (Public Health England)
Mother daughter surgery

About this theme

We provide behavioural and social science expertise for the optimisation and effective co-implementation of public health interventions. This includes:

  • optimising interventions before and during implementation using co-implementation evaluation techniques;
  • collaborating on implementation research and mixed method studies with other HPRUs and parts of the NIHR. 


Short-term objectives include:

  • support the establishment of the cross-HPRU Behavioural Science Network;
  • co-produce a work programme for the HPRU;
  • take forward exemplar projects on evaluation of implementation, and intervention optimisation.

Longer term objectives are to: 

  • in collaboration with other HPRU theme leads, ARC West and other HPRUs, use methodological innovations to evaluate and adapt promising interventions for effectiveness and efficiency, to optimise health outcomes;
  • contribute to mixed methods evaluations of implementation projects with other HPRUs;
  • support and lead new external grant applications on implementation science and applications to NIHR for Knowledge Mobilisation fellowships;
  • continue to provide behavioural and qualitative science expertise and leadership on implementation and
  • optimisation of interventions;
  • continue to support and lead new external grant applications to develop rapid methods for evaluating intervention implementation;
  • in collaboration with ARC West, evaluate and refine methods for developing and adapting interventions
  • and disseminate methods on how to co-design and optimise co-implementation of interventions to ensure they are accessible to diverse communities.

Key projects and outputs

Implementation evaluation: We will evaluate the success of two recent exercises to implement interventions linked to our previous HPRU and ARC West (formerly CLAHRC West) and NIHR programme grants:

  • the Antibiotic Review Kit for Hospital (ARK-Hospital) intervention to reduce antibiotic usage in secondary care, which is now being disseminated nationally; and
  • the success of the promotion of Low Dead Space Syringes (LDSS) with PHE, using routine surveillance and surveys with commissioners to test the extent to which they are being used - and identify whether further knowledge mobilisation and implementation is required.

Intervention optimisation and co-design: We will:

  • work with PHE, ARC West, and the HPRU in Immunisation to test whether further optimisation is required to minimise health inequalities in the human papilloma virus vaccination programme in secondary schools and childhood flu vaccination programme in primary schools;
  • compare our algorithm to identify and invite higher risk patients for Hepatitis C testing, which was found to be cost-effective, with one developed by industry and optimise the intervention for national roll-out with NHS England;
  • With ARC West we will optimise our piloted intervention to reduce opioid prescribing for non-cancer chronic pain so that it is ready for implementation or further evaluation. 

Schools research network: We will work with PHE to support the development of a school-based health research network.

Research examples

Driving the use of low dead space injecting equipment among people who inject drugs

Evaluation of self-consent procedures for the schools-based Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme

Hepatitis C Assessment to Treatment Trial (HepCATT)

Evaluating the South Gloucestershire opioid painkillers addiction pilot

Research team