A systematic review of adaptations of evidence-based public health interventions globally

Cam Escoffery*, E. Lebow-Skelley, R. Haardoerfer, E. Boing, H. Udelson, R. Wood, MA (Marieke) Hartman, M.E. Fernandez, P.D. Mullen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

188 Citations (Scopus)


Adaptations of evidence-based interventions (EBIs) often occur. However, little is known about the reasons for adaptation, the adaptation process, and outcomes of adapted EBIs. To address this gap, we conducted a systematic review to answer the following questions: (1) What are the reasons for and common types of adaptations being made to EBIs in community settings as reported in the published literature? (2) What steps are described in making adaptations to EBIs? and (3) What outcomes are assessed in evaluations of adapted EBIs?

We conducted a systematic review of English language publications that described adaptations of public health EBIs. We searched Ovid PubMed, PsycINFO, PsycNET, and CINAHL and citations of included studies for adapted public health EBIs. We abstracted characteristics of the original and adapted populations and settings, reasons for adaptation, types of modifications, use of an adaptation framework, adaptation steps, and evaluation outcomes.

Forty-two distinct EBIs were found focusing on HIV/AIDS, mental health, substance abuse, and chronic illnesses. More than half (62%) reported on adaptations in the USA. Frequent reasons for adaptation included the need for cultural appropriateness (64.3%), focusing on a new target population (59.5%), and implementing in a new setting (57.1%). Common adaptations were content (100%), context (95.2%), cultural modifications (73.8%), and delivery (61.9%). Most study authors conducted a community assessment, prepared new materials, implemented the adapted intervention, evaluated or planned to evaluate the intervention, determined needed changes, trained staff members, and consulted experts/stakeholders. Most studies that reported an evaluation (k = 36) included behavioral outcomes (71.4%), acceptability (66.7%), fidelity (52.4%), and feasibility (52.4%). Fewer measured adoption (47.6%) and changes in practice (21.4%).

These findings advance our understanding of the patterns and effects of modifications of EBIs that are reported in published studies and suggest areas of further research to understand and guide the adaptation process. Furthermore, findings can inform better reporting of adapted EBIs and inform capacity building efforts to assist health professionals in adapting EBIs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125
JournalImplementation Science
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:This research was supported in part by the Increasing Reach and Implementation of Evidence Based Programs for Cancer Control, National Cancer Institute grant (R01-CA163526) and the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (3 U48 DP005017-01S8). The content of this paper is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agency. No financial disclosures were reported by the authors of this paper.


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