Meaningful, effective community engagement is often essential for implementation research. Yes, unlike the field of clinical trials research, little practical guidance exists on how implementation researchers can and/or should engage community stakeholders.
The selected ‘10 best’ resources originate from both LMIC and high income country contexts and range from frameworks to standards to specific tools and ‘toolkits’. Conceptual foundations include appreciative inquiry, development theory, program theory evaluation, and others. We noted substantial cross-referencing between approaches but generally little discussion of how a researcher might determine if, how and when to apply them within a research project.
The substantial variation in the types of resources available (purpose, scope, tools, targeted audience, resources required, etc.) calls for holistic, systematic consideration and specific guidance on how community engagement approaches can best be incorporated into each step of the implementation research cycle.