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Development of a theory-informed questionnaire to assess the acceptability of healthcare interventions

Sekhon, Mandeep, Cartwright, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-3404-5659 & Francis, J. J. ORCID: 0000-0001-5784-8895 (2022). Development of a theory-informed questionnaire to assess the acceptability of healthcare interventions. BMC Health Services Research, 22(1), 279. doi: 10.1186/s12913-022-07577-3


BACKGROUND: The theoretical framework of acceptability (TFA) was developed in response to recommendations that acceptability should be assessed in the design, evaluation and implementation phases of healthcare interventions. The TFA consists of seven component constructs (affective attitude, burden, ethicality, intervention coherence, opportunity costs, perceived effectiveness, and self-efficacy) that can help to identify characteristics of interventions that may be improved. The aim of this study was to develop a generic TFA questionnaire that can be adapted to assess acceptability of any healthcare intervention.

METHODS: Two intervention-specific acceptability questionnaires based on the TFA were developed using a 5-step pre-validation method for developing patient-reported outcome instruments: 1) item generation; 2) item de-duplication; 3) item reduction and creation; 4) assessment of discriminant content validity against a pre-specified framework (TFA); 5) feedback from key stakeholders. Next, a generic TFA-based questionnaire was developed and applied to assess prospective and retrospective acceptability of the COVID-19 vaccine. A think-aloud method was employed with two samples: 10 participants who self-reported intention to have the COVID-19 vaccine, and 10 participants who self-reported receiving a first dose of the vaccine.

RESULTS: 1) The item pool contained 138 items, identified from primary papers included in an overview of reviews. 2) There were no duplicate items. 3) 107 items were discarded; 35 new items were created to maximise coverage of the seven TFA constructs. 4) 33 items met criteria for discriminant content validity and were reduced to two intervention-specific acceptability questionnaires, each with eight items. 5) Feedback from key stakeholders resulted in refinement of item wording, which was then adapted to develop a generic TFA-based questionnaire. For prospective and retrospective versions of the questionnaire, no participants identified problems with understanding and answering items reflecting four TFA constructs: affective attitude, burden, perceived effectiveness, opportunity costs. Some participants encountered problems with items reflecting three constructs: ethicality, intervention coherence, self-efficacy.

CONCLUSIONS: A generic questionnaire for assessing intervention acceptability from the perspectives of intervention recipients was developed using methods for creating participant-reported outcome measures, informed by theory, previous research, and stakeholder input. The questionnaire provides researchers with an adaptable tool to measure acceptability across a range of healthcare interventions.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Publisher Keywords: Acceptability, Questionnaire development, Pre-validation methods, Healthcare intervention, Theoretical framework
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

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