Background: An increasingly large body of research is focused on designing and testing strategies to improve knowledge about how to embed evidence-based programs (EBP) into community settings. Development of strategies for overcoming barriers and increasing the effectiveness and pace of implementation is a high priority. Yet, there are few research tools that measure the implementation process itself. The Stages of Implementation Completion (SIC) is an observation-based measure that is used to track the time to achievement of key implementation milestones in an EBP being implemented in 51 counties in 53 sites (two counties have two sites) in two states in the United States.
Methods: The SIC was developed in the context of a randomized trial comparing the effectiveness of two implementation strategies: community development teams (experimental condition) and individualized implementation (control condition). Fifty-one counties were randomized to experimental or control conditions for implementation of multidimensional treatment foster care (MTFC), an alternative to group/residential care placement for children and adolescents. Progress through eight implementation stages was tracked by noting dates of completion of specific activities in each stage. Activities were tailored to the strategies for implementing the specific EBP.
Results: Preliminary data showed that several counties ceased progress during pre-implementation and that there was a high degree of variability among sites in the duration scores per stage and on the proportion of activities that were completed in each stage. Progress through activities and stages for three example counties is shown.
Conclusions: By assessing the attainment time of each stage and the proportion of activities completed, the SIC measure can be used to track and compare the effectiveness of various implementation strategies. Data from the SIC will provide sites with relevant information on the time and resources needed to implement MTFC during various phases of implementation. With some modifications, the SIC could be appropriate for use in evaluating implementation strategies in head-to-head randomized implementation trials and as a monitoring tool for rolling out other EBPs.