Developing Theory to Guide Building Practitioners’ Capacity to Implement Evidence-Based Interventions

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Abstract

Public health and other community-based practitioners have access to a growing number of evidence-based interventions (EBIs), and yet EBIs continue to be underused. One reason for this underuse is that practitioners often lack the capacity (knowledge, skills, and motivation) to select, adapt, and implement EBIs. Training, technical assistance, and other capacity-building strategies can be effective at increasing EBI adoption and implementation. However, little is known about how to design capacity-building strategies or tailor them to differences in capacity required across varying EBIs and practice contexts. To address this need, we conducted a scoping study of frameworks and theories detailing variations in EBIs or practice contexts and how to tailor capacity-building to address those variations. Using an iterative process, we consolidated constructs and propositions across 24 frameworks and developed a beginning theory to describe salient variations in EBIs (complexity and uncertainty) and practice contexts (decision-making structure, general capacity to innovate, resource and values fit with EBI, and unity vs. polarization of stakeholder support). The theory also includes propositions for tailoring capacity-building strategies to address salient variations. To have wide-reaching and lasting impact, the dissemination of EBIs needs to be coupled with strategies that build practitioners’ capacity to adopt and implement a variety of EBIs across diverse practice contexts.

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