Implementation practice models for development in low- and middle-income countries: systematic review of peer-reviewed literature

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



BMC public health








International development; global health; health communication; implementation science; social and behavioral theory; social marketing


INTRODUCTION: This study operationally defines a relatively small, but growing field of study on implementation practice models for health behavior change in the context of international development. We define 'implementation practice models' as theoretical models that take a practical and practitioner-focused approach to behavior change, and we illustrate how these models have been developed and applied. The paper examines the continuum of behavioral theories and their application in the context of development programs and research in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We describe implementation practice models, examine how they have been used to design and evaluate theory-based interventions in LMIC, and describe the state of evidence in this field of study. METHODS: The authors conducted a systematic search of the published, peer-reviewed literature following the widely accepted PRISMA methods for systematic reviews. We aimed to identify all relevant manuscripts published in the English language in health, social science, and business literature that apply implementation practice models, located in an LMIC, with a behavior change objective. We located 1,078 articles through database searching and 106 through other means. Ultimately, we identified 25 relevant articles for inclusion. RESULTS: We found that the peer-reviewed literature on implementation practice models for development has been growing in recent years, with 80% of reviewed papers published since 2015. There was a wide range of different models revealed by this review but none demonstrated clear-cut evidence of being most effective. However, the models found in this review share common characteristics of focusing on the three central tenets of Opportunity, Ability, and Motivation (OAM). CONCLUSIONS: This review found that implementation practice models for development are a promising and growing approach to behavior change in LMICs. Intervention practice models research should be expanded and applied in new domains, such as vaccination.


Prevention and Community Health