Understanding implementation context and social processes through integrating Normalization Process Theory (NPT) and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR)

Dawn Schroeder, Thea Luig, Tracy Finch, Sanjay Beesoon, Denise Lynn Campbell-Scherer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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For successful implementation of an innovation within a complex adaptive system, we need to understand the ways that implementation processes and their contexts shape each other. To do this, we need to explore the work people do to make sense of an innovation and integrate it into their workflow and the contextual elements that impact implementation. Combining Normalization Process Theory (NPT) with the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) offers an approach to achieve this. NPT is an implementation process theory that explains how changes in the way people think about and use an innovation occurs, while CFIR is a framework that categorizes and describes contextual determinants across five domains that influence implementation. We demonstrate through a case example from our prior research how we integrated NPT and CFIR to inform the development of the interview guide, coding manual, and analysis of the findings.

In collaboration with our stakeholders, we selected NPT and CFIR to study the implementation process and co-developed an interview guide to elicit responses that would illuminate concepts from both. We conducted, audio-recorded, and transcribed 28 interviews with various professionals involved with the implementation. Based on independent coding of select transcripts and team discussion comparing, clarifying, and crystallizing codes, we developed a coding manual integrating CFIR and NPT constructs. We applied the integrated codes to all interview transcripts.

Our findings highlight how integrating CFIR domains with NPT mechanisms adds explanatory strength to the analysis of implementation processes, with particular implications for practical strategies to facilitate implementation. Multiple coding across both theoretical frames captured the entanglement of process and context. Integrating NPT and CFIR enriched understandings of how interactions between implementation processes and contextual determinants shaped each other during implementation.

The integration of NPT and CFIR provides guidance to identify and explore complex entangled interactions between agents, processes, and contextual conditions within and beyond organizations to embed innovations into routine practices. Nuanced understandings gained through this approach moves understandings beyond descriptions of determinants to explain how change occurs or not during implementation. Mechanism-based explanations illuminate concrete practical strategies to support implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalImplementation Science Communications
Issue number1
Early online date9 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


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