Health Equity Toolkit

The field of implementation science (IS) has contributed to understanding barriers and facilitators to implementing evidence-based practices (EBPs) and has generated evidence for effective strategies to improve the adoption, implementation, and sustainment of proven health interventions and public health EBPs.

Despite substantial progress in implementing EBPs in health care, public health and community-based settings, widespread inequities in EBP access and benefits linked with underlying social, structural, economic, and racial injustices persist. Implementation research that focuses on understanding and addressing factors driving inequities and disparities holds promise for advancing health equity.

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Audience for This Toolkit

This toolkit provides a comprehensive resource to help implementation scientists get started with health equity-focused implementation research. The toolkit assumes that the user has basic knowledge of foundational concepts and constructs in implementation science and is looking for guidance or suggestions regarding what to know, what to consider, and how to start implementation research projects that integrate a health equity lens.

Gap/Need Filled by the Toolkit

There have been numerous calls to prioritize health equity in IS, with key questions and considerations for reflection as well as recommendations in grounding and bringing an equity and antiracism approach to implementation research. IS scholars have responded with guidance for integrating an explicit equity lens in applying or operationalizing implementation research. However, these resources for integrating health equity in IS are scattered across scholarly articles. IS-trained investigators new to health equity in IS may not know these resources exist or where to find them.

To address this challenge, our team from the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Implementation Science in Cancer Control Center’s (ISC3) Network collaborated with federal agency partners at NCI to develop a bibliography of broad thematic areas for consideration among research and practice communities to advance health equity through IS in cancer prevention and control (access the publicly available resource at

We complement the existing resources with a toolkit designed to help IS investigators get started with health equity-focused IS research.

Using the Toolkit

This toolkit was designed to orient IS-trained investigators to key constructs and concepts in health equity and approaches to integrating health equity into IS research, whether health equity is the primary or secondary focus of an investigation. The toolkit provides links to relevant online resources and provides bibliographies for recommended readings and resources, with empirical examples and applications from the literature. The content in this toolkit is not exhaustive and may be updated over time as new resources and literature emerge.

We welcome feedback about the content of this toolkit, including its usability and accuracy. Users are encouraged to read the orientation section and then selectively read sections that are most relevant to their immediate needs and interests. The toolkit is designed to serve as an ongoing resource as IS investigators engage in this work.

Contact Kelly Aschbrenner, PhD, with any questions and or comments related to the toolkit: or contact

How To Cite This Toolkit

Aschbrenner KA, Zaidi M, Chen J, Hudson M, Tabak RG, Mazzucca-Ragan S, Walsh-Bailey C, Likumahuwa-Ackman S, Shelton RC. An Implementation Scientist’s Toolkit for Getting Started with Health Equity-Focused Implementation Research. Washington, DC: Implementation Science Centers in Cancer Control; 2023.


This manuscript was supported by the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Implementation Science Centers in Cancer Control (ISC3) (grant numbers P50 CA244433, P50 CA244693, P50 CA244431, P50 CA244289, and P50 CA244690). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute.


This toolkit has been supported by the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Implementation Science in Cancer Control Centers (ISC3) Network, funded by the Cancer Moonshot. The authors would like to thank members of the ISC3 Health Equity Task Force who reviewed and commented on drafts of this toolkit, including Drs. Jennifer Carroll, Peggy Hannon, Erika Waters, Rajani Sadasivam, and Ana Baumann.


List of toolkit authors
Authors Institution ISC3 Affiliation Grant #
Kelly A. Aschbrenner, PhD Dartmouth Health Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth The Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control Equity (ISCCCE) P50 CA244433
Maryum Zaidi, PhD, RN
Jinying Chen, PhD
Matt Hudson, PhD, MPH
UMass Lowell
Boston University
University of South Carolina
Implementation and Informatics – Developing Adaptable Processes and Technologies for Cancer Control (iDAPT) P50 CA244693
Rachel Tabak, PhD, RD
Stephanie Mazzucca, PhD
Callie Walsh-Bailey, MPH
Washington University in St. Louis Washington University Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control (WU-ISCCC) P50 CA244431
Sonja Likumahuwa-Ackman, MID, MPH Oregon Health & Science University Building Research in Implementation and Dissemination to close Gaps and achieve Equity in Cancer Control Center (BRIDGE-C2) P50 CA244289
Rachel Shelton, ScD, MPH Columbia University Penn Implementation Science Center in Cancer Control (Penn ISC3) P50 CA244690


Last Updated
April 18, 2024