Implementing an Evidence-Based Program

SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) website now has an online Learning Center. The NREPP Learning Center includes the online course Implementation: Making an Evidence-Based Program Work for You.

The course provides guidance about how to select and implement an evidence-based treatment or prevention program. It teaches users to select a program that best matches their organization’s needs and to carry out the steps necessary to implement the program.

To do so, the course guides users through the following issues:

  • Basic terms related to program selection and implementation
  • How to identify your organization’s needs
  • Where to find available programs
  • How to select the best program for your organization’s needs, with a focus on implementation
  • The five basic stages of program implementation

The course was designed for program administrators, directors, and clinicians who want to identify, select, and implement a treatment or prevention program to meet the needs of their target population, funders, or community. The course focuses not on individuals choosing a program but rather on an organization working collaboratively to select and implement a program to fit its needs.

Five Stages of Implementation

The course teaches that program implementation involves putting a program or set of activities—and the supporting scientific principles—to work in a real-world setting. Implementation is a process—not an event.

Implementation occurs in multiple stages of planning, purposeful action, and evaluation. Consider the following five main interrelated stages of implementation.

Exploration—involves selecting the most appropriate evidence-based program. An organization identifies the best program fit or the match between needs and resources and the characteristics of the program.

Installation—describes making the structural and instrumental changes necessary to implement the program within an organization. It can begin once a program has been selected and materials have been purchased.

Initial Implementation—occurs when individuals begin to put into practice all that has been planned for during exploration and installation. Staff will be changing their behavior, using new skills for the first time, and incorporating new practices into their routine.

Full Implementation—occurs when the program is integrated into the service, organization, and system settings. The processes and procedures to provide the selected program are now in place. The program is ready to be evaluated with a focus on assessing program fidelity.

Program Sustainability—helps maintain the program’s success. Programs must adapt continually to changes in the community, funding, and organizational priorities. Organizational culture, leadership, and staff must be nurtured and maintained. Organizations should develop a continuous feedback loop and institutionalize a quality assurance mechanism.

For more information:

By Mim Landry

Senior Public Health Analyst

Danya International


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