Using the multiple streams model to elicit an initial programme theory : from policy dialogues to a roadmap for scaling up integrated care

Monika Martens, Josefien van Olmen, Edwin Wouters, Daniel Boateng, Wim Van Damme, Sara Van Belle

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INTRODUCTION: The 'SCale-Up diaBetes and hYpertension care' Project aims to support the scale-up of integrated care for diabetes and hypertension in Cambodia, Slovenia and Belgium through the co-creation, implementation and evaluation of contextualised roadmaps. These roadmaps offer avenues for action and are built on evidence as well as stakeholder engagement in policy dialogues. Roadmaps and policy dialogues are very much intertwined and considered to be key elements for successful stakeholder-supported scale-up in integrated chronic care. Yet, little is known about how, why and under which conditions policy dialogue leads to successful roadmap implementation and scale-up of integrated care. Therefore, this study aims to use a realist approach to elicit an initial programme theory (IPT), using political science theories on the policy process.

METHODS: To develop the IPT, information from different sources was collected. First, an exploratory literature review on policy dialogue and scale-up definitions and success factors was performed, identifying theoretical frameworks, empirical (case) studies and realist studies (information gleaning). Second, research workshops on applying theory to the roadmap for scale-up (theory gleaning) were conducted with a multidisciplinary expert team. We used the intervention-context-actors-mechanism-outcome configuration to synthesise information from the sources into a configurational map.

RESULTS: The information and theory gleaning resulted into an IPT, hypothesising how policy dialogues can contribute to roadmap success in different policy stages. The IPT draws on political science theory of the multiple streams model adapted by Howlett et al to include five streams (problem, solution, politics, process and programme) that can emerge, converge and diverge across all five policy stages.

CONCLUSION: This paper aims to extend the knowledge base on the use of policy dialogues to build a roadmap for scale-up. The IPT describes how (dynamics) and why (theories) co-created roadmaps are expected to work in different policy stages.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Global Health
Issue number9
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Humans
  • Hypertension
  • Policy
  • Politics
  • Stakeholder Participation
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated


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