Background: Successful implementation is a vital precondition for investigating the outcome of care innovation. This study concerned the evaluation of the implementation of integrated emotion-oriented care (IEOC) in psychogeriatric nursing home wards. The main question was whether the trained caregivers actually applied the knowledge and techniques of IEOC during their daily work. Methods: The study was conducted within the framework of a randomized clinical trial into the effectiveness of IEOC in 16 wards. Preceding the experimental period, staff from 16 wards were educated and trained to work with a standardized care plan, resulting in a similar level of quality of care at the start of the trial. On the experimental wards IEOC was then implemented by training on the job in addition to training courses for personnel. To examine the implementation effectiveness, a self-report questionnaire, 'Emotion-oriented Skills in the Interaction with Elderly People with Dementia', was administered at baseline and after 7 months to a sample of caregivers from the experimental and the control wards. In addition, participant observation was conducted on four experimental and four control wards, and time spent by care personnel on different type of care tasks was registered.Results:The implementation of IEOC resulted in increased emotion-oriented skills and more knowledge of the residents among the caregivers. Providing IEOC was not more time consuming for the caregivers than providing usual care.Conclusion:This study shows that the implementation of IEOC was effective. It is recommended that in intervention studies the correct application of a new intervention or care approach is examined before jumping to conclusions about the effectiveness of the intervention or care approach itself. © The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav.