Our goal in this chapter is to highlight issues related to decision making as it concerns the specific delivery characteristics of an intervention. The behavioral intervention researcher is faced with many decisions as to what the intervention will look like and how it will be delivered, and these decisions need to be made early on in the pipeline and then modified through various tests of the intervention. The process of developing the delivery characteristics of an intervention is iterative and generally includes numerous feedback loops between implementing a particular delivery strategy, evaluating its feasibility and outcomes, and modifying the strategy accordingly. Behavioral intervention studies also typically involve multidisciplinary teams that can provide different insights into delivering an intervention.
There is no one answer when determining treatment content, dosage, or delivery mode. Decisions regarding these issues should be driven by theory/conceptual framework guiding the intervention, prior research, the research questions, the target population, the stage of intervening (e.g., prevention, disease management), the area targeted (e.g., knowledge, skills, or the physical environment), the context of delivery, and the specific goals and objectives of the intervention.
The takeaway message is that delivery characteristics represent the backbone of an intervention and have a profound influence on: the feasibility, timeline, and cost of a trial; the evidence regarding the impact of the intervention; and the likelihood that the intervention will be implemented on a broad scale. Of course, there are other related issues that need to be considered in designing the delivery characteristics of an intervention such as the development of treatment manuals, protocols for monitoring, and resolution of adverse events and issues related to participant consent. These issues are discussed in later chapters.