Definitive Interventions and Feasibility Awards (DIFA) 2020

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 (SWATs) within a trial are also eligible for reimbursement.



Additional Information

The DIFA Pre-Application Stage closed in late 2019 and successful applicants have now been invited to submit a DIFA Full Application.
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 knowledge into new ways of treating patients, delivering care or changing behaviour. 

The DIFA scheme also supports the conduct of trial methodology research within the context of proposed interventions. 

Applications should demonstrate how the proposed intervention could ultimately improve health outcomes and health service delivery. We expect that evidence supporting the case for specific interventions has been gathered systematically, i.e. as systematic reviews or other evidence synthesis formats. Simple literature overviews are not sufficient.

The scheme funds:

  • Definitive trials of interventions of any appropriate design aimed at assessing the efficacy or 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. 
  • Studies within a trial (SWATs) built into the main study or the feasibility study to explore primary trial methodology questions. An additional €20,000 in funding is available for conducting a SWAT. 
  • Participation in international studies at feasibility stage or participation in full-scale international studies subject to evidence of the feasibility in Irish sites



Applications to the Full Application stage are by invitation only, following the DIFA Pre-application Panel review process, which took place in March 2020. 
Researchers should be at mid-stage or senior stage in their career. It is strongly recommended that the Lead Applicant(s) should have experience in the conduct of interventions. For this round a Co-Lead Applicant option is available, where at least one of the Co-Lead Applicants is a Health and Care Practitioner investigator in Ireland. 

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. 


All applications must be made using the HRB Grant Electronic Management System (GEMS)  GEMS will close automatically at the deadline (June 30th). Your DIFA Full application is pre-populated with the information provided at stage 1 (pre-application).

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. 


Susan Quinn

Opening date
13:00 06-04-2020
Closing date
13:00 07-07-2020