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Current challenges in population health intervention research
  1. Linda Cambon,
  2. François Alla
  1. Bordeaux Population Health Research Center, UMR 1219, CIC-EC 1401, Université Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
  1. Correspondence to Professor François Alla, Bordeaux Population Health Research Center, UMR 1219, CIC-EC 1401, Université Bordeaux, Bordeaux 33200, France; francois.alla{at}


Population health interventions (PHIs) are generally complex; their results depend on their interaction with the context of their implementation. Moreover, the distinction between intervention and context is arbitrary: we need rather to consider an ‘interventional system’, including both interventional and contextual components. Evaluation must go beyond effectiveness and must include two key research questions: a viability analysis, to verify that the intervention can be routinised in a real-life context; and a theory-based evaluation, to analyse mechanisms and to understand what produces effects among components and their interactions with each other and with the context. PHI research is a question not only of the object but also of perspectives. This means doing research differently, making use of interdisciplinarity and involving stakeholders. Such an approach may contribute to the development, transfer, implementation and scaling-up of innovative interventions.

  • research methods
  • public health
  • prevention

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  • Contributors Both authors contributed equally to the writing of this paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement There are no data in this work.