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Front. Public Health, 11 June 2021 |

Editorial: Use of the RE-AIM Framework: Translating Research to Practice With Novel Applications and Emerging Directions

  • 1Department of Health Promotion, University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health, Omaha, NE, United States
  • 2Clinical Effectiveness and Decision Science, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Washington, DC, United States
  • 3Dissemination and Implementation Science Program of Adult & Child Consortium for Health Outcomes Research & Delivery Science (ACCORDS), Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Colorado, Aurora, CO, United States
  • 4Physical Activity Research and Community Implementation, Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, United States
  • 5Center for Population Health and Aging, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States
  • 6Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States
  • 7Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, UC San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States


In 2019, we initiated a call for papers to contribute to a Frontiers of Public Health Research Topic on the use of the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM) Framework. In part, the Research Topic was intended to celebrate 20 years of planning and evaluation using RE-AIM and underscore new research directions. More importantly, we saw the need to document how the framework continues to be adapted, evolve, and provide opportunities in emerging areas. Of key importance is speeding research-practice translation and studying the process that leads to more efficient movement of evidence-based principles, programs, and policies into sustained community and clinical practice. What follows is an overview of the excellent submissions we received that document lessons learned, adaptations, and innovative uses of RE-AIM, as well as highlight the framework's potential to advance science, quality of practice, and population health.

The Research Topic and resulting papers are grouped into four sections: (a) Introduction; (b) Use of RE-AIM in Community Settings; (c) Use of RE-AIM in Clinical Settings; and (d) Emerging Directions in the Application of RE-AIM. The Introduction section kicks off the collection with a paper led, fittingly, by (Glasgow, Harden et al.), on how the RE-AIM Framework has evolved over the 20 years since the seminal American Journal of Public Health (Glasgow, Vogt et al.) article was published in 1999. This is accompanied by an insightful commentary from Dr. Kurt Stange that highlights the value of using RE-AIM and its contextual extension, the Practical, Robust, Implementation, and Sustainability Model (PRISM) to “shine light on multilevel context” and solve real world problems, such as advancing health equity, in a meaningful and sustained way (Stange). We round out the Introduction with two papers summarizing goals, resources, benefits of application, and future directions for RE-AIM by members of the National RE-AIM Workgroup (Smith and Harden, Harden et al.). These papers, along with the RE-AIM website (, provides readers with current definitions, examples, and resources for applying RE-AIM.

The second and third sections of the Research Topic are the Use of RE-AIM in Community Settings and the Use of RE-AIM in Clinical Settings, respectively. Papers in these sections include international studies focused on physical activity promotion in Brazil (Benedetti et al.) and work environment improvements in Denmark (Munch et al.). There are exceptional exemplars across these sections (Balis and Strayer; Balis et al.; Ball et al.; Wilcox et al.) to guide readers about the application of RE-AIM when planning, implementing, and/or evaluating specific interventions intended to improve effectiveness on participant health outcomes. There are also some thoughtful manuscripts illustrating qualitative and mixed methods approaches, and one applying RE-AIM in an iterative fashion to support ongoing improvements in implementation (Ball et al.; Kwan et al.; Glasgow et al.; Prusaczyk et al.). Finally, these sections conclude with an informative article about how to integrate an additional implementation science theory with RE-AIM constructs (King et al.).

Our Research Topic concludes with a collection of papers that reflect Emerging Directions in the Application of RE-AIM. Two studies and a commentary, focus on applications of RE-AIM (Baumann) in the areas of environmental health (Quinn et al.) and health policy (Toyserkani et al.). They provide interesting and novel adaptations that offer opportunities for replication and further evolution of the framework. This section, and the entire Research Topic, concludes with two papers that provide extensions to RE-AIM. One integrates Proctor's et al. conceptualization of implementation outcomes (Reilly et al.), and the other integrates PRISM and RE-AIM factors to advance sustainability and health equity (Shelton et al.). The papers in this section are strong examples of how RE-AIM can be conceptualized, re-conceptualized, and expanded to address and resolve. As called out in the Introductory commentary by Stange, these papers astutely address the wicked problems affecting the health and equity in our society by taking the path that creates and supports a high, robust, and sustained level of public health around the world.

It is our hope that this collection of papers provides concrete examples and guidance about how RE-AIM can be used to advance science and improve the public health impact in our communities, both nationally and internationally.

Author Contributions

All authors contributed to the conceptualization of the manuscript and its content. All authors contributed to the full manuscript as well as reviewed and approved the final version of the manuscript.


MO and MS contributions supported through ACL SUSTAIN for Better Health and Health Care for Older Adults 90CS0065-01. PE contributions supported by Great Plains IDEA CTR U54 GM115458- 01. GCP contributions supported by American Heart Association 18PRE34060136. REG contributions partially supported by IMPlementation to Achieve Clinical Transformation (IMPACT): the Colorado Training Program from the NIH K12 HL137862, the Eastern Colorado VA Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, and NCI grant P50 CA244688. BR contributions partially supported by Center of Excellence in Stress and Mental Health at the San Diego VA and the UC San Diego ACTRI Dissemination and Implementation Science Center.


All statements in this report, including its findings and conclusions, are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), its Board of Governors, or Methodology Committee.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


The authors would like to acknowledge all members of the National Working Group on RE-AIM Planning and Evaluation Framework (

Keywords: RE-AIM, planning, evaluation, dissemination, implementation, research, practice

Citation: Estabrooks PA, Gaglio B, Glasgow RE, Harden SM, Ory MG, Rabin BA and Smith ML (2021) Editorial: Use of the RE-AIM Framework: Translating Research to Practice With Novel Applications and Emerging Directions. Front. Public Health 9:691526. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.691526

Received: 06 April 2021; Accepted: 26 April 2021;
Published: 11 June 2021.

Edited and reviewed by: Stefania Salmaso, Independent Researcher, Rome, Italy

Copyright © 2021 Estabrooks, Gaglio, Glasgow, Harden, Ory, Rabin and Smith. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Matthew Lee Smith,