Adaptation of health interventions has garnered international support across academic disciplines and among various health organizations. Through semi-structured interviews, we sought to explore and understand the perspectives of 26 health researchers and promoters located in the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Norway, working with ethnic minority populations, specifically African-, South Asian- and Chinese-origin populations in the areas of smoking cessation, increasing physical activity and healthy eating, to better understand how adaptation works in practice. We drew on the concepts of intersectionality, representation and context from feminist, sociology and human geography literature, respectively, to help us understand how adaptations for ethnic groups approach the variable of ethnicity. Findings include (i) the intersections of ethnicity and demographic variables such as age and gender highlight the different ways in which people interact, interpret and participate in adapted interventions; (ii) the representational elements of ethnicity such as ancestry or religion are more complexly lived than they are defined in adapted interventions and (iii) the contextual experiences surrounding ethnicity considerations shape the receptivity, durability and continuity of adapted interventions. In conclusion, leveraging the experience and expertise of health researchers and promoters in light of three social science concepts has deepened our understanding of how adaptation works in principle and in practice for ethnic minority populations.