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BACKGROUND: Normalisation process theory (NPT) provides researchers with a set of tools to support the understanding of the implementation, normalisation and sustainment of an intervention in practice. Previous reviews of published research have explored NPT's use in the implementation processes of healthcare interventions. However, its utility in intervention research, specifically in orthopaedic and musculoskeletal interventions, remains unclear. The aim of this review is to explore how NPT (including extended NPT, ENPT) has been used in orthopaedic/musculoskeletal intervention research. METHODS: A qualitative systematic review was conducted. Two bibliographic databases (Scopus and Web of Science) and a search engine (Google Scholar) were searched for peer-reviewed journal articles citing key papers outlining the development of NPT, related methods, tools or the web-based toolkit. We included studies of any method, including protocols, and did not exclude based on published language. A data extraction tool was developed, and data were analysed using a framework approach. RESULTS: Citation searches, of the 12 key studies, revealed 10,420 citations. Following duplicate removal, title, abstract and full-text screening, 14 papers from 12 studies were included. There were 8 key findings assessed against GRADE-CERQual (Confidence in Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative research). Five were of high confidence supporting NPT/ENPT's use in the implementation process for interventions targeting a range of MSK/orthopaedic conditions. NPT/ENPT offers a useful analytical lens to focus attention and consider implementation factors robustly. There is limited evidence for the selection of NPT/ENPT and for the use of the Normalisation Measure Development instrument. Three findings of moderate confidence suggest that coherence is seen as a fundamental initial step in implementation, there is limited evidence that study population limits NPT's utility and the application of ENPT may pose a challenge to researchers. CONCLUSION: This review demonstrates NPT's utility in supporting intervention implementation for orthopaedic and musculoskeletal conditions. We have theorised the benefits ENPT offers to intervention development and refinement and recommend future researchers consider its use. We also encourage future researchers to offer clear justification for NPT's use in their methodology. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The review protocol is registered with PROSPERO (CRD42022358558).

Original publication




Journal article


Implement sci commun

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Complex interventions, Extended normalisation process theory, Musculoskeletal conditions, NoMAD, Normalisation process theory, Orthopaedic conditions