Adaptation & Implementation

Adaptation and implementation of any program model can be complicated. When implementing an evidence based model, the questions around what you can and can not adapt or change can be even more confusing. When selecting a program to implement you should consider if the intervention or model is compatible with available resources and current program capacity. While fidelity to a program model is important, the program must also meet the needs of community that you are serving (including cultural relevance) and may require adaptation. When deciding to adapt a program, the adapted content should reflect the opinions of members of your community, especially those who will receive the programs. Once you receive community input you should determine whether the adaptations will remove or change critical content or change the major themes. Common adaptations such as using different language/words, or examples to be more relevant, or images that are more reflective of your community are often fine, but when activities, settings, or certain processes are altered or removed, the program’s fidelity can become compromised. Excessive adaptation of evidence based programs can also have implications on funding and can impact the outcomes of your program.

Check back soon for more in-depth information about adaptation and implementation.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway offer the following tips on implementing evidence based practice:

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.

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.

Learn more about implementing evidence based practice