Is implementation research out of step with implementation practice? Pathways to effective implementation support over the last decade Public Deposited

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  • Metz, Allison
  • Jensen, Todd
    • Affiliation: School of Social Work
  • Farley, Amanda
    • Affiliation: School of Social Work
  • Boaz, Annette
    • Other Affiliation: Department of Health Services Research and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Background: There is growing interest in the lived experience of professionals who provide implementation support (i.e., implementation support practitioners). However, there remains limited knowledge about their experiences and how those experiences can contribute to the knowledge base on what constitutes successful and sustainable implementation support models. This study aimed to examine pathways of implementation support practice, as described by experienced professionals actively supporting systems’ uptake and sustainment of evidence to benefit children and families. Methods: Seventeen individuals with extensive experience providing implementation support in various settings participated in semi-structured interviews. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis and episode profile analysis approaches. Iterative diagramming was used to visualize the various pathways of implementation support practitioners’ role reflection and transformation evidenced by the interview data. Results: Findings highlighted rich pathways of implementation support practitioners’ role reflection and transformation. Participants described their roots in providing implementation support as it relates to implementing and expanding the use of evidence-based programs and practices in child and family services. Almost all participants reflected on the early stages of their careers providing implementation support and described a trajectory starting with the use of “push models,” which evolved into “pull models” and eventually “co-creation or exchange models” of implementation support involving both technical and relational skills. Conclusions: Developing an implementation support workforce will require a deeper understanding of this lived experience to prevent repeated use of strategies observed to be unsuccessful by those most proximal to the work. The pathways for implementation practice in this study highlight impressive leaps forward in the field of implementation over the last 15 years and speaks to the importance of the professionals leading change efforts in this growth. Plain Language Summary Over the past few years, professionals in the field of implementation science have identified a growing gap between implementation research and implementation practice. While this issue has been highlighted informally, the field is lacking a shared understanding and clear way forward to reconcile this gap. In this paper, the authors describe how professionals providing implementation support have shifted their implementation practice over time through systematic observations of what works (and what does not work) for supporting and sustaining evidence use in service systems to improve population outcomes. The authors share the impressive leaps forward made in the field of implementation practice – from didactic training to responsive and tailored implementation strategies to co-created and relationship-based implementation solutions. The paper concludes with a call to action to the field for the creation of a virtuous learning cycle between professionals conducting implementation research and professionals providing implementation support to change practice as a way to produce a more robust and relevant science of implementation.
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  • Article
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
Rights holder
  • SAGE Publications Ltd and the Society for Implementation Research Colloboration, unless otherwise noted. Manuscript content on this site is licensed under Creative Commons Licenses
  • Attribution 4.0 International
Journal title
  • Implementation Research and Practice
Journal volume
  • 3
  • William T. Grant Foundation
  • 2633-4895
Copyright date
  • SAGE Publications

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