To Adapt or Not to Adapt: The Association between Implementation Fidelity and the Effectiveness of Diabetes Self-Management Education

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 13;18(8):4095. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18084095.


Self-management education (SME) is a key determinant of diabetes treatment outcomes. While SME programs are often adapted for implementation, the impact of adaptations on diabetes SME effectiveness is not well documented. This study evaluated the impact of the implementation fidelity of diabetes SME programs on program effectiveness, exploring which factors influence implementation fidelity. Data from 33 type 2 diabetes SME program providers and 166 patients were collected in 8 countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, UK, Israel, Taiwan and USA). Program providers completed a questionnaire assessing their adherence to the program protocol and factors that influenced the implementation. Patients answered a pre-post questionnaire assessing their diabetes-related health literacy, self-care behavior, general health and well-being. Associations between implementation fidelity and outcomes were estimated through logistic regressions and repeated measures MANOVA, controlling for potential confounders. Adaptations of the program protocol regarding content, duration, frequency and/or coverage were reported by 39% of the providers and were associated with better, not worse, outcomes than strict adherence. None of the factors related to the participants, facilitating strategies, provider or context systematically influenced the implementation fidelity. Future research should focus on individual and contextual factors that may influence decisions to adapt SME programs for diabetes.

Keywords: adaptation; adherence; diabetes; implementation fidelity; intervention effectiveness; self-management education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Program Evaluation
  • Self-Management*
  • Taiwan