Combining timelining and storyboarding to create a novel method for INtervention DesIGn with stakehOlders: INDIGO

Kelly Birtwell, Rebecca Morris, Christopher J. Armitage

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Design is a key part of the healthcare intervention development process, yet it is often viewed as unclear, unstructured, and challenging. INDIGO (“INtervention DesIGn with stakehOlders”) is a new mixed method that brings structure and creativity to the healthcare intervention design process and facilitates a holistic perspective of complex interventions. INDIGO combines and adapts timelining and storyboarding and enables users to create a visual representation of a complex intervention. It comprises card storyboard tokens representing intervention elements that can be moved around on a timeline chart. We discuss the background and development of INDIGO, including existing mixed methods approaches to intervention design. We then provide examples of the use of INDIGO in two empirical studies that informed the development of a brief mindfulness-based intervention, illustrating how INDIGO supported the generation of new insights. We go on to discuss the practicalities, benefits and challenges of INDIGO, including feedback from study participants. This article contributes to the field of mixed methods research by extending the scope and utility of timelining and storyboarding, and by clearly describing INDIGO so the method can be used by other researchers or intervention developers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Early online date10 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Nov 2022


  • mixed methods
  • creative methods
  • intervention development
  • stakeholder involvement
  • brief interventions


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