Open Access Highly Accessed Debate

Efficacious, effective, and embedded interventions: Implementation research in infectious disease control

Pascale Allotey1*, Daniel D Reidpath1, Hashim Ghalib2, Franco Pagnoni2 and William C Skelly3

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Public Health Research/School of Health Sciences, Brunel University, West London, UK

2 UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

3 Centre for Public Health Research/Institute for the Environment, Brunel University, West London, UK

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:343  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-343

Published: 1 October 2008



Research in infectious disease control is heavily skewed towards high end technology; development of new drugs, vaccines and clinical interventions. Oft ignored, is the evidence to inform the best strategies that ensure the embedding of interventions into health systems and amongst populations. In this paper we undertake an analysis of the challenge in the development of research for the sustainable implementation of disease control interventions.


We highlight the fundamental differences between the research paradigms associated with the development of technologies and interventions for disease control on the one hand and the research paradigms required for enhancing the sustainable uptake of those very same interventions within the communities on the other. We provide a definition for implementation research in an attempt to underscore its critical role and explore the multidisciplinary science needed to address the challenges in disease control.


The greatest value for money in health research lies in the sustainable and effective implementation of already proven, efficacious solutions. The development of implementation research that can help provide some solutions on how this can be achieved is sorely needed.