Characterizing evolving frameworks: Issues from Esmail et al. (2020) review

Russell E. Glasgow, Russell E. Glasgow, Paul A. Estabrooks, Marcia G. Ory, Marcia G. Ory, Marcia G. Ory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


There are complex issues in understanding and categorizing implementation science theories, models, and frameworks. Systematic reviews of these models are important undertakings for synthesizing current knowledge. The issues involved are even more challenging when reviewing a large number of frameworks and when some of the frameworks have evolved significantly over time. This paper addresses how the RE-AIM (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance) framework was described in the recent Esmail (2020) review and identifies four mischaracterizations. This is followed by a more general discussion of how advances or extensions of frameworks after an original source publication or influential review tend to be overlooked. We discuss why inadvertent mischaracterization of what a framework is and is not, and what it can and cannot be used for, can have deleterious consequences. Finally, we suggest initial ideas about what could be done to prevent or alleviate some of these problems by reviewers, framework developers, and scholars at large.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number53
JournalImplementation Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020


  • Classification
  • Implementation science framework
  • RE-AIM
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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