The role of formative evaluation in implementation research and the QUERI experience

Cheryl B. Stetler*, Marcia W. Legro, Carolyn M. Wallace, Candice Bowman, Marylou Guihan, Hildi Hagedorn, Barbara Kimmel, Nancy D. Sharp, Jeffrey L. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

274 Scopus citations


This article describes the importance and role of 4 stages of formative evaluation in our growing understanding of how to implement research findings into practice in order to improve the quality of clinical care. It reviews limitations of traditional approaches to implementation research and presents a rationale for new thinking and use of new methods. Developmental, implementation-focused, progress-focused, and interpretive evaluations are then defined and illustrated with examples from Veterans Health Administration Quality Enhancement Research Initiative projects. This article also provides methodologic details and highlights challenges encountered in actualizing formative evaluation within implementation research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S1-S8
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Evaluation methodology
  • Evaluation studies
  • Process assessment (health care)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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