Publication: Towards a comprehensive model for understanding adaptations’ impact: the model for adaptation design and impact (MADI)

September 24, 2020

Towards a comprehensive model for understanding adaptations’ impact: the model for adaptation design and impact (MADI)


Implementation science is shifting from qualifying adaptations as good or bad towards understanding adaptations and their impact. Existing adaptation classification frameworks are largely descriptive (e.g., who made the adaptation) and geared towards researchers. They do not help practitioners in decision-making around adaptations (e.g., is an adaptation likely to have negative impacts? Should it be pursued?). Moreover, they lack constructs to consider “ripple effects” of adaptations (i.e., both intended and unintended impacts on outcomes, recognizing that an adaptation designed to have a positive impact on one outcome may have unintended impacts on other outcomes). Finally, they do not specify relationships between adaptations and outcomes, including mediating and moderating relationships. The objective of our research was to promote systematic assessment of intended and unintended impacts of adaptations by using existing frameworks to create a model that proposes relationships among constructs.

Materials and methods

We reviewed, consolidated, and refined constructs from two adaptation frameworks and one intervention-implementation outcome framework. Using the consolidated and refined constructs, we coded qualitative descriptions of 14 adaptations made to an existing evidence-based intervention; the 14 adaptations were designed in prior research by a stakeholder panel using a modified Delphi approach. Each of the 14 adaptations had detailed descriptions, including the nature of the adaptation, who made it, and its goal and reason. Using coded data, we arranged constructs from existing frameworks into a model, the Model for Adaptation Design and Impact (MADI), that identifies adaptation characteristics, their intended and unintended impacts (i.e., ripple effects), and potential mediators and moderators of adaptations’ impact on outcomes. We also developed a decision aid and website ( to help implementation scientists apply MADI in their work.

Results and conclusions

Our model and associated decision aids build on existing frameworks by comprehensively characterizing adaptations, proposing how adaptations impact outcomes, and offering practical guidance for designing adaptations. MADI encourages researchers to think about potential causal pathways of adaptations (e.g., mediators and moderators) and adaptations’ intended and unintended impacts on outcomes. MADI encourages practitioners to design adaptations in a way that anticipates intended and unintended impacts and leverages best practice from research.

Link to full article.