top of page

An encyclopaedia of common mental health concepts and methods, updated regularly by mental health researchers at King's College London, Aga Khan University

and the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the RCA.

Want to know more terms and what they mean in the research setting?

Get in touch to suggest a vocab or two!

Perinatal  /ˌper.ɪˈneɪ.təl/

The root of this word, "peri", means surrounding.

So as you might expect, perinatal refers to the time before and after a child is born.

In the INSPIRE project, specifically, we are considering the perinatal period to cover the pregnancy period and up to one year after birth.

Helfer, Ray E. "The perinatal period, a window of opportunity for enhancing parent-infant communication: an approach to prevention." Child Abuse & Neglect 11.4 (1987): 565-579.


Research Methodology

You've probably heard this term but before, but what does it actually refer to?

Well, research methodology refers to the "how" of carrying out research. What approach did the researcher use to ensure they collect valid and reliable data that addresses their research question?


"Good research methodologies are "systematic", in that they are planned, organised, and have specific goal" (Goddard, 2004).

We need to consider questions like 'what type of data is collected', 'how it is collected', and 'who it is collected from'. The INSPIRE project's methodology can be found under the "approach" tab here on our website.

A great resource if you want to read more, and whose definition we paraphrased for the one above: Quote taken from: Goddard, Wayne, and Stuart Melville. Research methodology: An introduction. Juta and Company Ltd, 2004.

Research methods

Stakeholder /ˈsteɪkˌhəʊl.dər/

In a research context, "stakeholder" generally means “individuals, organizations or communities that have a direct interest in the process and outcomes of a project, research or policy endeavor" (Deverka et al, 2012).


This includes, but is not limited to, the individuals receiving and intervention, their communities, and those adminstering the intervention.

The purpose of engaging with a variety of stakeholders is to gather different points of view about a particular issue that the research is addressing so that you can design an intervention that serves multiple stakeholder groups.


In the INSPIRE project our key stakeholders are: adolescent mothers and pregnant adolescents, their partners, families and health providers from the maternity setting.

Deverka, Patricia A., et al. "Stakeholder participation in comparative effectiveness research: defining a framework for effective engagement." Journal of comparative effectiveness research 1.2 (2012): 181-194.


Implementation Science
/ˌɪm.plɪ.menˈteɪ.ʃən/ /ˈsaɪ.əns/

Implementation science offers theories, models, frameworks and other methodologies to optimise and evaluate the implementation of evidence-informed care.

The methods offered through implementation science can inform decision-makers on how best to design, implement and adapt interventions in the dynamic environments in which they work, to produce new knowledge for more effective strategies and implementation.

Systems Thinking

Systems thinking is an approach which aims to understand and address the inter-connectedness of the micro, meso and macro (small, medium and large) levels of a given system. Its goal is to identify and make explicit the models and assumptions which govern how and why interventions.

Human-Centred Design

Human-centred design is an approach that actively engages stakeholders in a 5 stage design process using cutting-edge methods to ensure interventions are optimised for both front-line use and local and national implementation.

The stages will be outlined below:

Stage 1: Empathise

We start by identifying a complex issue that our research will focus on. Then we identify the stakeholders who are impacted by the issue and start to engage in conversations to understand the issue from their perspective.

This is an 'empathic' process. Empathy is defined as 'the ability to imagine and understand the thoughts, perspective, and emotions of another person' and this is a crucial starting point for the Human-Centred Design process and is relevant through all stages.

Stage 2: Define

Once we have 'empathised' with our stakeholders' on the issue that the research is centred on we determine the priority challenges within this complex topic from the viewpoint of our stakeholders.

These can be thought of as specific challenges within the broader challenge.

Stage 3: Ideate

Once we have 'defined' the specific challenges which are important to the stakeholders we work with the stakeholders to think about ideas which could address the issues from stage 2.

Stage 4: Prototype

Once we have our 'ideas' that might solve the important issues we create a fast and cheap physical mock-up or 'prototype' that we can show to the stakeholder to get feedback on whether they think it will address the issues well.

At this stage we will edit the prototype to solve any challenges and make sure the different stakeholder groups agree on its design. It is useful to have something to show the stakeholders at this stage as we move from 'ideas' to a real-world solution they can see. Prototypes might take the form of a 3D model, a role play or a video or other creative ways to show the idea to stakeholders.

Stage 5: Test

Once our 'prototype' has been edited and agreed upon by stakeholders it is time to test it in the real world. It is important to do this testing not only with our original stakeholders who have been involved throughout the HCD process but also with new stakeholders who do not know anything about the intervention. The testing phase allows us to see if our intervention will be successful in the real world. The intervention may still need some refinements so we may have to 'iterate' (go back to previous stages) to keep editing it into its final version.


During the HCD process we move from the initial 'Empathise' phase through to the final 'Pilot' phase, however we may circle back from later to earlier phases if we need to gather more information from our stakeholders or change direction slightly.

When we retrace our steps to dig deeper into what interventions will work best we refer to these as 'iterations'. The iterative and flexible process of Human-Centred Design is what makes it different to most other research methodologies which move in a linear direction from start to finish.

Implementation Science
Systems Thinking

Last updated: July 2022

INSPIREpedia is an easy-to-read encyclopaedia of mental health concepts and research methods. We also feature methods used in our INSPIRE project.

How to cite us?

APA: Design in Mental Health (2022). INSPIREpedia. Design in Mental Health.

Interested in contributing?

This page is being regularly updated based on submissions from research team and from keen learners like you!

Get in touch today if you want us to cover other relevant vocabs!

bottom of page