Definitive Interventions and Feasibility Awards (DIFA) 2018

The overarching aim of the Definitive Interventions and Feasibility Awards (DIFA) scheme is to deliver tangible benefits to patients, people’s health and health services. The scheme supports evaluations of full-scale, definitive interventions of any appropriate design. In order to achieve a pipeline of such studies, the scheme supports feasibility studies conducted in preparation for a future definitive intervention. Costs for studies on methodology research within a trial are eligible for reimbursement.


Scheme at a glance

Career stage
  • Mid career
  • Senior career
Research area
  • Health services research
  • Patient-oriented and clinical research
  • Population health research
Funding available Up to €1,000,000 per award
Duration of funding Typically, 24–48 months, and no longer than 60 months

Additional Information

DIFA supports researchers and research teams to conduct high-quality definitive intervention trials and feasibility studies. Outputs should provide evidence on the efficacy, effectiveness, cost and broad impact of the intervention. Applications should be in the areas of clinical research, population health research, or health services research. Applications should:
•    Be relevant to health priorities internationally and/or nationally
•    Translate research discoveries and knowledge into new ways of treating patients, delivering care or changing behaviour.

Applications should demonstrate how they could ultimately improve health outcomes and health service delivery.

The DIFA scheme supports the conduct of trial methodology research within the context of proposed interventions. The scheme funds:
•    Definitive interventions of any appropriate design aimed at assessing the efficacy, effectiveness, cost and broad impact of a therapy or intervention. This includes randomised controlled trials and non-randomised trials.
•    Stand-alone feasibility studies conducted in preparation for a future definitive intervention. The HRB’s sole aim in funding these studies is to establish a pipeline for definitive interventions. Criteria for clear progression to a substantive study are required. It is not possible to apply for funding for a feasibility study and for a definitive intervention at the same time.
•    Studies within a trial (SWATs) built into the main study or the feasibility study to explore primary trial methodology questions. Costs for proposed SWATs must fall within the parameters of the overall funding available.
•    Participation in international studies at feasibility stage or participation in full-scale international studies subject to evidence of the feasibility in Irish sites.



The research team should demonstrate the necessary breadth and depth of expertise in each of the methodological areas required for the delivery of the proposed project. Appropriate multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary involvement in the research team is essential. Depending on the nature of the project, the research team must include experts in:
•    Trial methodology
•    Statistics
•    Trial management
•    Health economics
•    Health services research
•    Behavioural science
•    Qualitative research methodologies
•    Psychology
•    Sociology

Researchers should be at mid-stage or senior stage in their career. It is strongly recommended that the Lead Applicant should have experience in the conduct of interventions.


All applications must be made using the HRB Grant Electronic Management System (GEMS) GEMS will close automatically at the deadline.

The application must have been reviewed and approved by the signatory approver at the research office (or equivalent) in the host institution before it is submitted to the HRB. Therefore, applicants should ensure that they give the signatory approver sufficient time before the scheme closing date to review the application and approve it on GEMS. Please note that many host institutions specify internal deadlines for this procedure.

You can view a webinar that outlines some of the key features of this scheme at the link below. (Registration is required, but this is a very short process.)


Opening date
Closing dates for full application is mid-May 2017
Closing date
13:00 13-12-2017
Shortlisting and invitation for full application March 2018
Decision expected
December 2018
Next call expected
October 2019