Diffusion of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatments: Development, Dissemination, and Implementation

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Theory and research regarding the diffusion of innovations and technology transfer have advanced our understanding of how new ideas and technologies are developed, disseminated, adopted, and implemented by individuals and organizations. Although diffusion has been studied in other fields, it is not often applied to mental health and substance abuse treatment. However, findings from diffusion-of-innovations research can assist in bridging research-practice gaps that lead to clients receiving treatments whose effectiveness has not been assessed or to clients not receiving the most effective treatments. This article reviews theory and research regarding the diffusion of innovations and highlights areas for application to mental health treatment, including the transportability of treatments into real-world settings, strategies to disseminate treatments, attributes of treatments that affect their adoption, and organizational change factors that affect implementation.

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