Designing Individual-Level Implementation Strategies

This course focuses on changing health-related behaviors (or practices) of individuals—including providers, patients, and community members—in order to facilitate uptake of evidence-based health interventions. Scholars will be introduced to health behavior change theories across a range of socio-ecological contexts and intervention design frameworks. The emphasis will be on the application of theory and frameworks to 1) selecting behavior change targets; 2) characterizing barriers and enablers of behavior change; and 3) identifying techniques likely to be effective in addressing key barriers and enablers of behavior change. Scholars will apply concepts taught by either 1) developing a conceptual framework and instrument to guide data collection on barriers and enablers of a selected target behavior; or 2) designing an implementation strategy to facilitate uptake of their chosen evidence-based health intervention or program by target individuals. Scholars will also learn to incorporate the conceptual basis for their work into grant applications/funding proposals.


  • Cognitive and socio-ecological health behavior change theories
  • Frameworks for the design of effective health behavior change interventions (e.g., Behaviour Change Wheel)
  • Common behavior change tools (e.g., behavioral economics, social marketing)
  • Writing implementation science grants

At the end of the course, scholars will be able to:

  • Describe common behavior change theories used to facilitate uptake of health interventions
  • Identify behavioral and contextual determinants that can influence health intervention uptake by individuals using behavior change theories
  • Design, adapt, and/or tailor an implementation strategy that targets key behavioral and contextual determinants using an intervention design framework
  • Create visual representations (e.g., figures and tables) of the logic, functions, and techniques of an implementation strategy to foster individual behavior change.


Clinicians, public health practitioners, and researchers wishing to gain knowledge and skills in translating evidence into practice.

Offered: Winter Term


Introduction to Implementation Science Theory and Design. Exceptions to this prerequisite may be made with the consent of the Course Director, space permitting.


Course Director

Margaret Handley, PhD, MPH is a public health trained epidemiologist and Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Department of Medicine Center for Vulnerable Populations, at the University of California San Francisco. Her research focuses on implementation science and bridging the fields of primary care, public health, and health communication for underserved populations in US and global settings. 

Dr. Handley also co-directs the UCSF Training Program in Implementation Science, in which she directs a course on developing theory-informed interventions. She has methodological expertise in practice-based research, community-engaged research, quasi-experimental designs, implementation science, and mixed methods. Her active grants include developing and pilot testing a post-partum intervention to reduce chronic disease risk in women with prior gestational diabetes and on improving health literacy skills among migrant adolescents.


Course Requirements

Required Readings: The Behaviour Change Wheel. A Guide To Designing Interventions. Written by Susan Michie, Lou Atkins & Robert West. 2015. Available at Behaviour Change Wheel website.

Recommended: Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice by Karen Glanz. Jossey-Bass. 4th edition. 2008.

Evaluation of student performance will be based on successful completion of assignments for the first 7 weeks and a final 3-5 page protocol or grant proposal section. Completing this course will take an estimated 60 hours of work.