The experience of using the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) outside of trials, in a range of applied health research context

Greater ManchesterGeneric Health Relevance
Start Date: 1 Apr 2017 End Date: 8 Sep 2017

About this project

The Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR) checklist and guide was developed by an international team of experts to promote full and accurate description of trial interventions. There are many contexts, outside the world of clinical trials, where accurate intervention description is desirable. The potential advantages for health services researchers of detailing the components of an intervention include transparency over what was done, allowing future replication, distinguishing similar interventions from one another, and assisting with wider implementation. 

The aim was to evaluate the experiences of using TIDieR in ‘real world’ settings, using qualitative and mixed methods studies, and to make recommendations for its use in health services research.

How did we do it?

The TIDieR template for intervention description was used in six health services research projects. The six cases included a diverse sample of research settings such as a diabetes prevention programme, a community weight loss programme, prevention and management of acute kidney injury. Interventions were included at various stages of implementation, from initial design of the intervention through to adoption in a new setting. Some of the interventions were designed and led by researchers, while others were the brainchild of service deliverers. There was also variation in who was involved in writing the TIDieR description and the time point at which it was produced. Researchers involved in the six cases met in two workshops to identify issues and themes arising from their experience of using TIDieR.


Four themes and additional complexities were identified when using TIDieR beyond the world of clinical trials. 

  1. In the messy world of health services delivery many components of an intervention can change over time. 
  2. Health services research often evaluates interventions designed by NHS service providers or co-produced by researchers, providers or service users, and it is important to be clear whose voice the TIDieR intervention description represents. 
  3. A clear structured description of an intervention can be an important way to promote spread of the intervention beyond the immediate context. 
  4. In addition to its role in intervention reporting, TIDieR also has the potential to be a valuable research tool. 

The process of producing a TIDieR with stakeholders can highlight contested aspects of a complex intervention, encourage participants to reflect on their role, and aid the synthesis of multiple sources of data in the design of an intervention.

Dr Sarah Cotterill