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Public Health Intervention Development Scheme (PHIND)

Support for early phase development of public health interventions

The MRC Public Health Intervention Development scheme (PHIND) supports the early stages of development of public health interventions. Studies funded by the scheme will develop a solid theoretical framework and generate evidence on the design specification and feasibility of the intervention. Essential knowledge obtained from these preliminary studies will provide the foundation for future pilot testing and evaluation, with the ultimate aim of improving the effectiveness of public health interventions.

Context of the PHIND scheme

MRC guidance on the successful development and evaluation of public health interventions, calls for a systematic and phased testing approach, underpinned by a solid evidence and theoretical base. (Campbell M et al, BMJ 2000;321:694-6, Craig et al BMJ 2008;337:979-983). Each stage in the process is critically dependent on knowledge obtained from a preceding stage. Lack of sufficient research at the preliminary stages can mean an intervention has a weak theoretical base, is poorly specified and is less likely to deliver the desired outcomes.


Funders and policy makers need to be confident that a proposed intervention is relevant, with an appropriate design and based on reliable evidence from early developmental studies. The MRC PHIND scheme provides support for these preliminary studies, complementing funding available from NIHR, MRC Global Health and other sources for subsequent stages of public health intervention development and evaluation.


PHIND scheme remit

PHIND is a rapid response funding scheme aimed at improving the initial evidence on which development and evaluation of public health interventions are based. Studies should address an important UK or global public health issue and offer an innovative approach to intervention development or applying an existing intervention in a new setting.


The scheme’s remit ranges from primary research developing and designing the intervention to feasibility studies, encompassing:


  • developing theory
  • modelling process and outcomes
  • assessing feasibility

Systematic reviews, meta analyses and pilot studies are outside the remit of the PHIND scheme.


Scope of research

The scope of the scheme includes well formulated qualitative and quantitative primary research up to but not including pilot testing. Systematic reviews and meta analyses are not eligible for funding through this scheme.


Examples of the types of research within scope are:


  • instrument development
  • developing theory such as defining the intervention, specifying content
  • modelling process and outcomes such as developing logic models, including identifying components and their inter-relationships, mechanisms of effect and outcome measures
  • calculating sample size and power of the study
  • estimating recruitment and retention and factors influencing these
  • identifying intervention comparators
  • testing acceptability and compliance
  • developing procedures and protocols


Research should be highly innovative either through novel approaches to intervention development or innovative translation of existing interventions in a new area. Investigators are strongly encouraged to include user participation in their developmental study, as absence of user engagement at an early stage can reduce the success of the intervention.


Funding and eligibility

Applicants can apply for up to £150K for a maximum of 18 months. Funds may be requested to support costs attributable to the study including investigator and research staff time, consumables, equipment and travel.


The usual MRC funding and eligibility rules apply. Please see the Applicants Handbook and the Research Councils UK website for information regarding eligibility.


MRC University Units may apply for funding via this scheme, however in line with MRC policy, the scheme is not open to MRC Units. For information on other eligible Research Organisations please see the RCUK website


Assessment process

PHIND is designed to be a rapid response scheme which is reflected in a streamlined submission and assessment process. Applications will be directly assessed by a scientific panel, comprising a range of public health research and practitioner expertise, without additional external peer-review. The panel will have close links with NIHR and MRC global health to ensure the public health relevance of the proposal and to increase the potential success of future applications for piloting and evaluative studies.


The panel will assess applications against the following criteria:

  • The importance of the public health question and need for an intervention to address the issue(s)
  • The proposed approach including methodology, innovation and likelihood of the outcomes of the proposed study to fill a current gap in knowledge
  • The research team, research environment and stakeholder partners


Once funding decisions have been made, successful applicants will be required to re-submit their proposal through the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system in order to receive awarded funds.


How to apply

Applicants should complete the PHIND application proforma (Word 55KB) and email to by the chosen deadline.


The completed application should be 4 sides of A4 (10 point) not including a summary of requested funds and references. A 1 page CV for each of the main investigators and letters of support if relevant should be included. All documentation should be submitted as a single PDF.




Applicants can resubmit an application after one round of the scheme. Resubmissions must be substantially different and/or address specific concerns raised by the panel.


Submission deadlines and panel dates

The scheme will operate three times a year, with the scientific panel meeting held approximately one month after the submission deadline.


Completed application forms must be submitted to by 4pm of your chosen deadline. No late submissions will be accepted for assessment.


Deadlines for receipt of applications are:


  • 12th September 2014
  • 30th January 2015



If you have any queries about this scheme please contact Kate Sheedy at or 020 7395 2201


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