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Implementing the LifeSkills Training drug prevention program: factors related to implementation fidelity

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Author(s): Mihalic Sharon | Fagan Abigail | Argamaso Susanne

Journal: Implementation Science
ISSN 1748-5908

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 5;
Date: 2008;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Widespread replication of effective prevention programs is unlikely to affect the incidence of adolescent delinquency, violent crime, and substance use until the quality of implementation of these programs by community-based organizations can be assured. Methods This paper presents the results of a process evaluation employing qualitative and quantitative methods to assess the extent to which 432 schools in 105 sites implemented the LifeSkills Training (LST) drug prevention program with fidelity. Regression analysis was used to examine factors influencing four dimensions of fidelity: adherence, dosage, quality of delivery, and student responsiveness. Results Although most sites faced common barriers, such as finding room in the school schedule for the program, gaining full support from key participants (i.e., site coordinators, principals, and LST teachers), ensuring teacher participation in training workshops, and classroom management difficulties, most schools involved in the project implemented LST with very high levels of fidelity. Across sites, 86% of program objectives and activities required in the three-year curriculum were delivered to students. Moreover, teachers were observed using all four recommended teaching practices, and 71% of instructors taught all the required LST lessons. Multivariate analyses found that highly rated LST program characteristics and better student behavior were significantly related to a greater proportion of material taught by teachers (adherence). Instructors who rated the LST program characteristics as ideal were more likely to teach all lessons (dosage). Student behavior and use of interactive teaching techniques (quality of delivery) were positively related. No variables were related to student participation (student responsiveness). Conclusion Although difficult, high implementation fidelity by community-based organizations can be achieved. This study suggests some important factors that organizations should consider to ensure fidelity, such as selecting programs with features that minimize complexity while maximizing flexibility. Time constraints in the classroom should be considered when choosing a program. Student behavior also influences program delivery, so schools should train teachers in the use of classroom management skills. This project involved comprehensive program monitoring and technical assistance that likely facilitated the identification and resolution of problems and contributed to the overall high quality of implementation. Schools should recognize the importance of training and technical assistance to ensure quality program delivery.
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