Prevention Science

, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 987–996 | Cite as

Social Interface Model: Theorizing Ecological Post-Delivery Processes for Intervention Effects

  • Jonathan PettigrewEmail author
  • Jeremy Segrott
  • Colter D. Ray
  • Hannah Littlecott


Successful prevention programs depend on a complex interplay among aspects of the intervention, the participant, the specific intervention setting, and the broader set of contexts with which a participant interacts. There is a need to theorize what happens as participants bring intervention ideas and behaviors into other life-contexts, and theory has not yet specified how social interactions about interventions may influence outcomes. To address this gap, we use an ecological perspective to develop the social interface model. This paper presents the key components of the model and its potential to aid the design and implementation of prevention interventions. The model is predicated on the idea that intervention message effectiveness depends not only on message aspects but also on the participants’ adoption and adaptation of the message vis-à-vis their social ecology. The model depicts processes by which intervention messages are received and enacted by participants through social processes occurring within and between relevant microsystems. Mesosystem interfaces (negligible interface, transference, co-dependence, and interdependence) can facilitate or detract from intervention effects. The social interface model advances prevention science by theorizing that practitioners can create better quality interventions by planning for what occurs after interventions are delivered.


Intervention development Logic models Ecological perspective Implementation science 



Portions of this paper were presented at the 2017 meeting of the European Society for Prevention Research. We thank conference attendees and anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback.


Portions of this work were supported by Cardiff University through an incoming visiting fellowship scheme awarded to Jeremy Segrott to cover travel and subsistence for Jonathan Pettigrew to visit Cardiff and collaborate on this project. The work was undertaken with the support of The Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Joint funding (MR/KO232331/1) from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, the Welsh Government and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants and/or Animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors; hence, informed consent was not applicable.


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hugh Downs School of Human CommunicationArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.DECIPHer, Cardiff School of Social SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  3. 3.Centre for Trials Research, College of Biomedical & Life SciencesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

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