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Glossary of Terms


Antenatal – before birth; during or related to pregnancy.

Attachment – an emotional bond between two people which is meaningful and stable in which each seeks closeness and feels more secure when in the presence of the attachment figure. Attachment can influence a child or adolescents’ development cognitively, emotionally and socially.  According to attachment theory, an individual’s childhood experiences with their main caregiver can influence their mental representations of close relationships (called ‘internal working model’).

Attachment behaviours - interpersonal actions that help to increase an individual's sense of security, especially in times of stress or need. For example, a parent’s attachment behaviour towards the child includes responding sensitively and appropriately to the child’s needs.



Bio-behavioural – The interaction of behavioural and biological processes.



Change - (see Theory of Change)



Dyad - Two people engaged in an ongoing relationship. For example, parent-child dyad.



Early Intervention - is the process of identifying and intervening as soon as possible with families either in terms of an individual’s life or the problem cycle to help prevent issues from happening or reduce risks or the effect of less-than-optimal circumstances.  For those who show signs of a specific problem, or who display risk factors or vulnerabilities for a specific problem, evidence-based prevention and early intervention aims to establish and help improve life-long health and learning outcomes by changing behaviour or a specific developmental trajectory.

Emotional Regulation – the process whereby an individual modifies their emotions to influence when and how they experience, and convey, their feelings. Emotional regulation can be conscious or unconscious, automatic or controlled.

Evidence-based – a programme or approach is thought to be evidence based when it is supported by a significant amount of well-designed scientific research.

Evidence-informed – when research is used that is already available and has been tested, tried, and valid.



Fidelity (see Treatment Fidelity)



Grey Literature –unpublished research or research which has been published not for profit.



Hexagon Tool – The National Implementation Research Network created the Hexagon Tool to be utilised by communities and organisations to improve understanding about how programmes or practices can be applied in an implementing site’s existing work and context. It uses six contextual fit and feasibility indicators made up of three programme indicators (support, evidence and usability) and three implementing site indicators (capacity, need and fit). Although the tool can be used to evaluate fit and feasibility at any stage of implementation, it is primarily used during the Exploration stage when a site is identifying and choosing new programmes and practices to implement.



Implementation – involves a process of applying specific innovations, observable actions and methods related to using evidence-based interventions in real-world settings to achieve positive outcomes by implementing with fidelity and sustainability at either a community, organisational, or practitioner level.

Implementation Context – the environment such as within a community, organisation or system, including policy and socio‐economic factors, that make it feasible to implement the innovation. Implementation contexts may be ever evolving due to changes in staffing, funding, leadership, or difficulties at utilising the innovation with fidelity. 

Implementation Science – is the study of how evidence-based interventions can be used to best achieve effective and sustainable outcomes. Implementation science research uses a systematic and scientific approach to ascertain an array of factors and variables key to successful adoption and sustainability of programmes.

Implementation Strategy – is the methods or techniques used to improve the uptake, implementation, and sustainability of an intervention (programme or practice).

Intent to Treat Analysis (ITT) - An assessment of individuals involved in a trial, dependent on the group they were initially and randomly allocated to. This is irrespective of whether or not the individuals completely follow the treatment, dropped out, or changed to a different treatment. As ITT analyses emulate real-life practice, they are commonly used to assess clinical effectiveness, (e.g. when not everyone entirely followed the treatment, and the treatment individuals may be changed depending on how their condition changes). 







Logic Model – A logic model is an illustration which depicts the theory or assumptions of how an intervention (e.g. programme or approach) delivers its outcomes. The logic model relates outcomes or impact with programme activities or processes (such as inputs/resources, implementation/outputs, context), as well as the relationship between these factors.



Matrix – A grid used to display data in a structured format. Within mental health in Scotland, this often refers to ‘The Matrix (2015) A Guide to Delivering Evidence-Based Psychological Therapies in Scotland’.







Psychosocial – the combined influence of the social environment / factors and psychological factors such as individual thoughts and behaviours



Quasi-experimental study/Design (QED) - means individuals are not randomly assigned to groups, as assignment to conditions (e.g. intervention or no intervention or comparison) is by means of self-selection (i.e. participants select intervention themselves) or administrator selection (e.g., by officials, policymakers, etc.) or both of these options. This means a researcher cannot draw conclusions about 'cause and effect'. QED is often used when it is not possible, or unethical, to do a randomised controlled trial (RCT; See NICE for further details).



Randomised controlled trial (RCT) - A study where a group of comparable individuals are randomly allocated to two (or more) groups to test a particular intervention, treatment or drug. An experimental group receives the intervention, whilst the other comparison or control group receives a different intervention, a placebo intervention or no intervention of any kind. To establish how effective the experimental intervention was the groups are monitored by measuring at particular time points. Different effects between the groups are statistically evaluated.

Resilience – is the ability to recover from difficulties in their life such as stress, failure, challenges, or even trauma. It is generally considered to be a skill that children learn as they develop.



Social determinants of health – are the conditions of daily life influenced by political, social and economic factors, and are key in determining health inequities. These include peoples’ access to services such as health care, schools and education; conditions of work and leisure; environmental settings such as a home, community, and rural or urban places; and their opportunities to lead fulfilling lives. See the World Health Organisation for further details.

Stakeholder Group – a group of people with an interest or concern in something, who can either affect or be affected by this common interest.

Supervision – is used in many professions within mental health, and other disciplines, and involves regular, formal meetings between a clinician and an experienced colleague. Clinicians are supported to continue to learn and develop their practice through reflecting on their practice.

Statistically significant – Within research significant results refer to a statistical process that indicated that the change found is unlikely to be attributed to chance.



Targeted – Targeting an intervention means it is aimed at a specific population with a specific need. For example, an intervention could be targeted at parents with mental health difficulties or young people who have experienced a trauma. This contrasts with Universal programmes (see Universal).

Tertiary – Within mental health a tertiary service often related to a service that offers a highly specialised service for a specific need or population.

Theory of Change (TOC) - describes the process of change within a programme or intervention. It explained how change happens, what the programme does and the process which results in the desired goals, it describes the causal links between the intervention and outcomes.

Treatment Fidelity – is the degree to which an intervention or programme is delivered and adheres to the intended model and method of delivery, on which the evidence is based.



Universal – usually relates to who a programme or approach is for. Universal programmes are aimed at everyone within the specified age range, recipients of the intervention don’t need to meet a criteria to access the programme.