On Equitable Implementation Science

Amanda Fixsen, PhD here on the IIK blog everyone! Hello- I’m the Director of Implementation at IIK and, last week, I traveled to North Carolina to participate in the second annual Summer Institute on Implementation Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The theme of this year’s Institute was ‘Beginning the conversation on equity and implementation science’. Given IIK’s focus in recent years on equity, diversity, and inclusion the theme of the Institute felt particularly relevant.

Much conversation at the Institute centered on ways to truly engage the communities we work with and work in to achieve equitable outcomes. In order to get to equitable outcomes, we must also be equitable in our implementation practice. This means (among many other things!) that we must work to tailor the ways in which we support implementation to communities we work with across the state of Colorado.  Reflecting on this, I’m aware of the importance of this dialogue and putting it at the forefront of our implementation practice. For example, with our program The Incredible Years, our staff found that coaching implementers in our rural and frontier communities in person was difficult (i.e., weather and distance issues) and many coaching visits were subsequently missed. In response, we have worked to disseminate and make use of a remote coaching technology, IRIS Connect. This is one approach to finding an equitable solution so that all Colorado implementers receive high quality coaching supports without geographic barriers from IIK.

It is becoming clear that we must not only be concerned with the fit of our programs in the communities they aim to benefit, but we also must ‘think up’ a level to what we can do as an intermediary organization to ensure that the implementation approaches we use are also a fit. As presenter Byron Powell noted at the Institute, implementation strategies are the ‘interventions to our interventions’. Through an equity lens we can work to understand how current aspects of our implementation support, (i.e., coaching, development of local implementation teams, how we collect and feed data forward to communities) are aligned or are not aligned with true community needs.