Implementation fidelity, attitudes, and influence: a novel approach to classifying implementer behavior

Implement Sci Commun. 2022 Jun 6;3(1):60. doi: 10.1186/s43058-022-00307-0.


Background: The current study sought to (1) describe a new classification approach for types of implementer behavior and (2) explore the implementer behavior change in response to tailored implementation facilitation based on the classifications.

Methods: A small-scale, cluster-randomized hybrid type III implementation trial was conducted in 38 early care and education classrooms that were part of the Together, We Inspire Smart Eating (WISE) program. WISE focuses on 4 evidence-based practices (EBPs), which are implemented by teachers to promote nutrition. External facilitators (N = 3) used a modified Rapid Assessment Procedure Informed Clinical Ethnography (RAPICE) to complete immersion (i.e., observations) and thematic content analyses of interviews to identify the characteristics of teachers' behavior at varying levels of implementation fidelity. Three key factors-attitudes toward the innovation, fidelity/adaptations, and influence-were identified that the research team used to classify teachers' implementation behavior. This process resulted in a novel classification approach. To assess the reliability of applying the classification approach, we assessed the percent agreement between the facilitators. Based on the teachers' classification, the research team developed a tailored facilitation response. To explore behavior change related to the tailored facilitation, change in fidelity and classification across the school year were evaluated.

Results: The classifications include (1) enthusiastic adopters (positive attitude, meeting fidelity targets, active influence), (2) over-adapting adopters (positive attitude, not meeting fidelity targets, active influence), (3) passive non-adopters (negative attitude, not meeting fidelity targets, passive influence), and (4) active non-adopters (negative attitudes, not meeting fidelity targets, active influence). The average percent agreement among the three facilitators for classification was 75%. Qualitative data support distinct patterns of perceptions across the classifications. A positive shift in classification was observed for 67% of cases between the mid-point and final classification. Finally, we generated an expanded classification approach to consider additional combinations of the three factors beyond those observed in this study.

Conclusions: Data from this study support the ability to apply the classification approach with moderate to high reliability and to use the approach to tailor facilitation toward improved implementation. Findings suggest the potential of our approach for wider application and potential to improve tailoring of implementation strategies such as facilitation.

Keywords: Adoption; Behavior; Childcare; Classification; Early care and education; Implementation; Implementation science; Nutrition; Obesity prevention.