Theory of Change Resources

Do you need to develop a Theory of Change for your development or research project? Here are some helpful resources to get you started.

Introductory papers and reviews

  1. Isabella Vogel’s Review of Theory of Change is a classic overview of Theory of Change in International Development
  2. A Review of Theory of Change by Cathy James
  3. A Systematic review of Theory of Change in Public Health Interventions with a handy checklist for describing Theory of Change development and use.


  1. The Mental Health Innovation Network has a great Theory of Change toolkit for those looking to use Theory of Change in research
  2. Together with some colleagues, I developed some practical guidance for conducting Theory of Change workshops to complement the Mental Health Innovation Guidance which you can find here.
  3. Helen Clark, Diana Taplin and colleagues from ActKnowledge have a helpful series of technical papers including a primer on primer on Theory of Change and a helpful list of resources

Papers describing examples of using Theory of Change

  1. Asher, L., Hanlon, C., Birhane, R., Habtamu, A., Eaton, J., Weiss, H. A., . . . De Silva, M. (2018). Community-based rehabilitation intervention for people with schizophrenia in Ethiopia (RISE): a 12 month mixed methods pilot study. BMC Psychiatry, 18(1), 250. doi:10.1186/s12888-018-1818-4
  2. Breuer, E., Comas-Herrera, A., Freeman, E., Albanese, E., Alladi, S., Amour, R., . . . Iveth Astudillo García, C. Beyond the project: Building a strategic theory of change to address dementia care, treatment, and support gaps across seven middle-income countries. Dementia.  2021 doi: 14713012211029105. Preprint available here
  3. Gilissen J, Pivodic L, Gastmans C, Vander Stichele R, Deliens L, Breuer E, et al. How to achieve the desired outcomes of advance care planning in nursing homes: a theory of change. BMC geriatrics. 2018;18(1):47. doi: : 10.1186/s12877-018-0723-5
  4. Fuhr, D. C., Acarturk, C., Sijbrandij, M., Brown, F. L., Jordans, M. J., Woodward, A., . . . Ikkursun, Z. (2020). Planning the scale up of brief psychological interventions using theory of change. BMC Health Serv Res, 20(1), 1-9. available here
  5. Breuer E, De Silva MJ, Shidaye R, Petersen I, Nakku J, Jordans MJ, et al. Planning and evaluating mental health services in low-and middle-income countries using theory of change. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 2016. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.153841
  6. Abayneh, S., Lempp, H., Alem, A., Kohrt, B. A., Fekadu, A., & Hanlon, C. (2020). Developing a Theory of Change model of service user and caregiver involvement in mental health system strengthening in primary health care in rural Ethiopia. Int J Ment Health Syst, 14, 51. doi:10.1186/s13033-020-00383-6

Published by Erica Breuer

My work involves articulating and understanding how, why and whether health and social care interventions, programs and policies result in change for individuals and broader society. This includes working with stakeholders to understand how system and service level change should occur in their contexts

2 thoughts on “Theory of Change Resources

  1. Hi Erica Breuer! I am Lydia, Ph.D. Scholar from the Department of Psychiatric Social Work, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS). I want to get trained in the Theory of change (ToC). Please let me know if there is any upcoming training don’t the same.


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