What affects staff members’ interest in participating in the dissemination of evidence-based practices?

While there is a growing number of ways to prevent and treat substance use issues, it can take a long time for these approaches to make their way into agencies. In particular, there is a need to develop more effective ways to implement evidence-based practices (EBPs). A key part of implementing EBPs consists of getting people in the field to engage in professional development on EBP initiatives.

Ontario researchers wanted to find out what affects people’s decision to participate in professional development related to disseminating EBPs? To answer this question, they surveyed service providers and administrators at addiction agencies.

To learn about their results, check out EENet’s new Research Snapshot of the article, “Preferences for evidence-based practice dissemination in addiction agencies serving women: a discrete-choice conjoint experiment,” published in the journal Addiction, 107 (2012): 1512-1524 by Charles E. Cunningham, Joanna Henderson, Alison Niccols, Maureen Dobbins, Wendy Sword, Yvonne Chen, Stephanie Meilko, Karen Milligan, Ellen Lipman, Lehana Thabane, and Louis Schmidt.

Read this Research Snapshot below or download the PDF.

Research Snapshots are brief, clear language summaries of research articles, presented in a user-friendly format.

What you need to know

When deciding whether or not to participate in EBPs initiatives:

  • People tended to be influenced to different degrees by the EBP’s outcome, the process of implementing the EBP, and by the demand on their time/workload;
  • All staff and administrators were more likely to participate if the EBP would affect a significant percentage of clients.
  • People were more likely to participate if:
  • The EBP was feasible and promised to be effective, and
  • Co-workers and administrative staff were on board.

The study also found that endorsements by government funders may reduce participation in EBP initiatives.

What is this research about?

While there is a growing number of ways to prevent and treat substance use issues, it can take a long time for these approaches to make their way into agencies. In particular, there is a need to develop more effective ways to implement evidence-based practices (EBPs). A key part of implementing EBPs consists of getting people in the field to engage in professional development on EBP initiatives.

What did the researchers do?

The authors wanted to find out: What affects people’s decision to participate in professional development related to disseminating EBPs? To answer this question, the researchers did an experiment that involved surveying service providers and administrators at addiction agencies. Based on their responses, participants were categorized according to what they were most influenced by: 

  • The EBP’s outcome,
  • The process of implementing the EBP, or
  • The demand on their time. 

What did the researchers find?

People in all categories were, overall, most influenced by the potential impact on clients and preferred when research evidence was supported by the real-world experiences of other agencies. In general, they also preferred professional development to be a) focused on easily applied practice changes that are compatible with their current work; b) supported by their co-workers and administrators, and endorsed by experts; c) in the form of 1-day, small-group workshops led by clinicians rather than researchers/former clients/administrators; and d) interactive, with questions and practice exercises.

People who were most outcome-sensitive (52% of respondents) were most concerned about the impact on clients and the quality of evidence. They wanted the EBP initiative to be compatible with their current work, and they preferred professional development to be focused on skills. They also wanted any supplementary info to be forwarded automatically.

People who were most process-sensitive (about 30% of respondents) were concerned about content selection, group size, and learning processes. They wanted professional development to focus on skills; they preferred active learning; and they wanted to access supplementary info on a website.

People who were most demand-sensitive (about 18% of respondents) were concerned with how much time the initiative would take and how difficult it would be to apply new information. These individuals wanted fewer follow-ups, with supplementary info sent at their own request. They were more interested in gaining knowledge than skills; they wanted co-workers and administrative staff to support the initiative; they were less likely to support options selected/endorsed by government funders; and they were less intent on using research.

How can you use this research?

When implementing evidence-based practices:

  • Advertise benefits of the implementation process by featuring scientific evidence of the benefit to clients while highlighting the endorsements of real-world experts/experience;
  • Advertise the ease of implementation and the compatibility with current work;
  • Ensure that co-workers and administrators actively support the learning objectives;
  • Use a fair, inclusive, transparent decision-making process;
  • Include participants from each segment in local decisions; and
  • Engage the demand-sensitive segment by offering brief, skills-focused workshops with a self-paced internet program and with limited follow-up support. Also, introduce the individual components of evidence-based treatments incrementally.

About the researchers

The authors are: Charles E. Cunningham, Joanna Henderson, Alison Niccols, Maureen Dobbins, Wendy Sword, Yvonne Chen, Stephanie Meilko, Karen Milligan, Ellen Lipman, Lehana Thabane, and Louis Schmidt.

This Research Snapshot is based on the article “Preferences for evidence-based practice dissemination in addiction agencies serving women: a discrete-choice conjoint experiment,” which was published in Addiction, 107 (2012): 1512-1524. 

Keywords

Addiction, conjoint analysis, discrete choice conjoint experiment, dissemination, implementation, reactance

This Research Snapshot is based on an article that has been critically appraised for quality and susceptibility to bias.

Evidence Exchange Network (EENet) has partnered with the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York University to produce Research Snapshots in the field of mental health and addictions in Ontario. This summary was written by Lindsay Kochen.