Methods used to address fidelity of receipt in health intervention research: a citation analysis and systematic review

Lorna Rixon, Justine Baron, Nadine McGale, Fabiana Lorencatto, Jill Francis, Anna Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review


BACKGROUND: The American Behaviour Change Consortium (BCC) framework acknowledges patients as active participants and supports the need to investigate the fidelity with which they receive interventions, i.e. receipt. According to this framework, addressing receipt consists in using strategies to assess or enhance participants' understanding and/or performance of intervention skills. This systematic review aims to establish the frequency with which receipt is addressed as defined in the BCC framework in health research, and to describe the methods used in papers informed by the BCC framework and in the wider literature.

METHODS: A forward citation search on papers presenting the BCC framework was performed to determine the frequency with which receipt as defined in this framework was addressed. A second electronic database search, including search terms pertaining to fidelity, receipt, health and process evaluations was performed to identify papers reporting on receipt in the wider literature and irrespective of the framework used. These results were combined with forward citation search results to review methods to assess receipt. Eligibility criteria and data extraction forms were developed and applied to papers. Results are described in a narrative synthesis.

RESULTS: 19.6% of 33 studies identified from the forward citation search to report on fidelity were found to address receipt. In 60.6% of these, receipt was assessed in relation to understanding and in 42.4% in relation to performance of skill. Strategies to enhance these were present in 12.1% and 21.1% of studies, respectively. Fifty-five studies were included in the review of the wider literature. Several frameworks and operationalisations of receipt were reported, but the latter were not always consistent with the guiding framework. Receipt was most frequently operationalised in relation to intervention content (16.4%), satisfaction (14.5%), engagement (14.5%), and attendance (14.5%). The majority of studies (90.0%) included subjective assessments of receipt. These relied on quantitative (76.0%) rather than qualitative (42.0%) methods and studies collected data on intervention recipients (50.0%), intervention deliverers (28.0%), or both (22.0%). Few studies (26.0%) reported on the reliability or validity of methods used.

CONCLUSIONS: Receipt is infrequently addressed in health research and improvements to methods of assessment and reporting are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2016


  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results


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