Tips for Implementation of Evidence-Based Practice
Evidence-based practice is most successful when implemented in a way that is as similar as possible to the original, evaluated approach. Researchers emphasize that when an evidence-based practice is modified, fidelity to the model is compromised, and one can no longer assume that the practice is supported by evidence. There are many other considerations in implementing an evidence practice successfully. Implementation steps include.
- Gather as much information as possible
- Provide for infrastructure and other needs
- Build an evaluation plan
- Adapt with caution
Gather as much information as possible
- Seek out specific descriptions of the practice, including its key components, population served, organizational context, and staffing requirements, for example. Obtain all available written documentation such as guidelines and curricula.
- Talk with current or former users to learn more about implementation.
- Make a site visit, if possible, to observe the practice in person, and meet with practitioners, families, and other stakeholders.
Provide for infrastructure and other needs
Be sure to address the following implementation needs:
- Ongoing technical assistance and contact with the program developers
- Appropriate staffing in numbers and skills
- Staff buy-in and belief in the practice (most likely when the practice is congruent with the existing organizational culture)
- Adequate resources, including administrative support and appropriate physical facilities
- Community and family involvement, to ensure its relevance for the families who will be served
Build an evaluation plan
When implementing any practice, it is important to build an evaluation plan to measure ongoing effectiveness. This will contribute to the evidence base of this practice and to the field in general. Including evaluation will also provide feedback about the continued benefits of the practice in the context of the new population being served.
Learn more in Evaluating Program, Practice, & Service Effectiveness, including using our Logic Model Builder to help plan an evaluation.
Adapt with caution
Every community is different, and it is natural to want to modify or adapt practices to fit a unique organizational or community culture. Some aspects of a practice may be modified without detriment to its outcomes. But repeated evaluated replication efforts are necessary to distinguish the components that can be modified from the core, fixed components essential to the intervention's outcome.
If a practice has been replicated numerous times, available research may help to identify core components. These should be changed as little as possible to support effective implementation.
If no replication research can be found, proceed with caution. Make changes only if they are unavoidable. Document any changes, and evaluate results so that others may learn from the experience.