Matching barriers and facilitators to implementation strategies: recommendations for community settings

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Background Implementation science aims to improve the integration of evidence-based interventions in real-world settings. While its methods and models could potentially apply to any field with evidence-based interventions, most research thus far has originated in clinical settings. Community settings often have fewer resources, missions beyond health, and a lack of support and expertise to implement evidence-based interventions when compared to many clinical settings. Thus, selecting and tailoring implementation strategies in community settings is particularly challenging, as existing compilations are primarily operationalized through clinical setting terminology. In this debate, we (1) share the process of using an existing match tool to select implementation strategies to increase uptake of nutrition and physical activity policy, systems, and environment interventions in community settings and (2) discuss the challenges of this process to argue that selecting implementation strategies in community settings has limited transferability from clinical settings and may require a unique implementation strategy compilation and pragmatic matching tool.

            Matching barriers to implementation strategies
            The impetus for this debate paper came from our work selecting implementation strategies to improve the implementation and eventual scaling of nutrition and physical activity policy, systems, and environment interventions in a community settings. We conducted focus groups with practitioners and used the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research-Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change match tool to select potential implementation strategies to overcome prominent barriers. There was limited congruence between tool outputs and optimal strategies, which may in part be due to differences in context between clinical and community settings. Based on this, we outline needs and recommendations for developing a novel and pragmatic matching tool for researchers and practitioners in community settings.

            More work is needed to refine the implementation barrier-strategy matching process to ensure it is relevant, rapid, and rigorous. As leading implementation strategy scholars note, as more researchers document contextual factors and strategies selected to address them, the knowledge base will increase, and refined mapping processes can emerge.
Implementation Science Communications. 2023 Nov 21;4(1):144