Diffusion of Innovation


Health Affairs issue on the Diffusion of Innovation, February 2018.
Submit abstracts no later than March 27, 2017 via our online submission portal

See submission requirements below and see FAQs for additional information.

Health Affairs is planning a theme issue for February 2018 that will provide a broad look at diffusion of innovations in the health care delivery system.
We plan to publish about 20 peer-reviewed articles including empirical research, systematic reviews, well-designed case studies, analyses, and commentaries from leading researchers, scholars, diffusion experts, and stakeholders in diffusion activities.

We will invite several overview papers that explore the concept of diffusion and its theoretical underpinnings, how innovative ideas are spread, why diffusion is an important discipline and considered separately from innovation, and the influence of public policies and private sector developments. In filling out the issue, we are particularly interested in empirical analyses of diffusion initiatives of varying scales and origins, from both the private and public sectors, and from the U.S. and abroad. We will place an emphasis on papers about diffusion in the health care industry, but we will also consider papers that attempt to draw lessons from other industries. We are also interested in lessons learned from failed diffusion initiatives.

We invite all interested authors to submit abstracts for consideration for this issue. Editors will review the abstracts and, for those that best fit our vision and goals for the issue, invite authors to submit full papers for consideration for the issue.

In order to be considered, abstracts must be submitted no later than 11:59PM Eastern time, March 27, 2017. We regret that we will not be able to consider any abstracts submitted after that date.

Topics of interest include the following:

Key Concepts and Challenges in Diffusion of Innovation

  • The causes of diffusion, including the roles of evidence, peer groups, and other factors in determining the scale and speed of diffusion
  • Creating innovation-receptive environments and “adaptive reserve”
  • The supply of innovations and the demand for innovations
  • Sustaining diffusion through different stages and beyond initial funding
  • Whether diffusion of innovation increases or decreases inequities

Methods and Applications of Diffusion

  • Diffusion across settings: large and small enterprises, low and high resources settings, etc.
  • Campaign-style diffusion
  • Regional extension service models
  • Learning collaboratives and learning systems
  • Exponential scaling, such as “train the trainers”
  • Replication vs. reinterpretation: fidelity to a model vs. site-specific adaptation
  • Using results from failed initiatives to advance knowledge of diffusion
  • Lessons from other industries


  • Role of the public sector in diffusion
  • Role of health care purchasers in spreading innovations
  • Role of professional societies in diffusion of innovations
  • Role of private consultants in spreading innovations

The Diffusion Ecosystem

  • Public and private funding sources for diffusion
  • Financial incentives for efficiency as a motivator for diffusion
  • Public policies that enable or inhibit diffusion

First-person narratives that touch on these themes would also be of interest for consideration for our Narrative Matters section.

The list above is a guide and highlights a number of priority areas, but it is not exhaustive. We welcome submissions on complementary and related topics, as well.

The editors will evaluate submitted abstracts and, in late-April, will invite authors of selected abstracts to submit their work for consideration for the issue. Invited papers will be due at the journal by September 5, 2017.

Following submission, full manuscripts will be subjected to peer review in September and October 2017, with revision beginning in October and running through December 2017. Copyediting and production for the issue will take place in January 2018, with publication scheduled for February 2018.

Abstract submissions should not exceed 500 words. Please consult our online guidelines for additional formatting instructions and answers to frequently asked questions.

Submit abstracts via our online submission portal.

We thank you for your time and consideration. Please feel free to pass this invitation along to colleagues who might be interested, as well.

If you have questions about this request, please e-mail Healthaffairs_diffusion_queries@projecthope.org