Attitude theory and measurement in implementation science: a secondary review of empirical studies and opportunities for advancement.

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TitleAttitude theory and measurement in implementation science: a secondary review of empirical studies and opportunities for advancement.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsFishman, J, Yang, C, Mandell, D
JournalImplement Sci
Date Published2021 09 14

BACKGROUND: Implementation science studies often express interest in "attitudes," a term borrowed from psychology. In psychology, attitude research has an established methodological and theoretical base, which we briefly summarize here. We then review implementation studies designed to measure attitudes and compare their definitions and methods with those from psychology.

METHODS: A recent review identified 46 studies empirically examining factors associated with implementation. For each of these studies, we evaluated whether authors included attitudes as a construct of interest, and if so, whether and how the construct was defined, measured, and analyzed.

RESULTS: Most of the articles (29/46 [63%]) mention attitudes as an implementation factor. Six articles include a definition of the construct. Nineteen studies were designed to measure attitudes but lacked clarity in describing how attitudes were measured. Those that explained their measurement approach used methods that differed from one another and from validated methods in social psychology. Few articles described associated analyses or provided results specific to attitudes. Despite the lack of specificity regarding relevant measurement, analysis, and results, the articles often included causal conclusions about the role of attitudes.

CONCLUSIONS: Attitudes may be an important construct to implementation scientists, but studies to date are ambiguous in their definitions of attitudes and inconsistent in the methods used to measure and analyze attitudes. We discuss how implementation studies can apply psychology's standardized definitions, validated measurement approaches, and causal models that include attitudes. This application of attitude theory and methods could offer implementation research valuable scientific opportunities.

Alternate JournalImplement Sci
PubMed ID34521422
PubMed Central IDPMC8438998
Grant ListP50 MH113840 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States