BACKGROUND: Evidence-informed practices (EIPs) are imperative to increase school safety for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) students and their peers. Recently, the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC), a taxonomy of discrete implementation strategies used in health care settings, was adapted for schools. The School Implementation Strategies, Translating the ERIC Resources (SISTER) resulted in 75 discrete implementation strategies. In this article, we examine which SISTER strategies were used to implement six EIPs to reduce suicidality among LGBTQ high school students. We applied the dynamic adaptation process (DAP), a phased, data-driven implementation planning process, that accounts for adaptation while encouraging fidelity to the core elements of EIPs.
METHODS: Qualitative data derived from 36 semi-structured interviews and 16 focus groups conducted with school professionals during the first of a 3-year effort to implement EIPs in 19 high schools. We undertook iterative comparative analysis of these data, mapping codes to the relevant domains in the SISTER. We then synthesized the findings by creating a descriptive matrix of the SISTER implementation strategies employed by schools.
RESULTS: We found that 20 SISTER strategies were encouraged under the DAP, nine of which were amplified by school personnel. Nine additional SISTER strategies not specifically built into the DAP were implemented independently by school personnel, given the freedom the DAP provided, resulting in a total of 29 SISTER strategies.
CONCLUSION: This study offers insight into how schools select and elaborate implementation strategies. The DAP fosters freedom to expand beyond study-supported strategies. Qualitative data illuminate motives for strategy diversification, such as improving EIP fit. Qualitative methods allow for an in-depth illustration of the strategies that school personnel enacted in their efforts to implement the EIPs. We discuss the utility of the DAP in supporting EIP implementation to reduce disparities for LGBTQ students.
PLAIN LANGUAGE ABSTRACT: Implementation science is, in part, concerned with implementation strategies, which are actions made to bridge implementation gaps between evidence-informed practices and the contexts in which practices are to be used. Implementation experts compiled a list of strategies for promoting the use of new practices in school settings. The authors of this article examine which implementation strategies in this list were promoted by the research team and which were employed independently by school personnel. Our results illustrate how school personnel applied strategies based on the conditions and needs of their individual schools. These results will contribute to knowledge about implementation strategies and improve readiness by building in strategies implementation teams will use. The authors conducted interviews and focus groups with school personnel involved in implementing six evidence-informed practices for reducing suicidality and other negative outcomes for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) high school students. Findings are from the end of the first year of implementation and provide a glimpse into how and why certain implementation strategies were employed by school personnel to facilitate adoption of the practices. Findings describe how they applied these strategies in communities where LGBTQ people were marginalized and where anti-LGBTQ stigma influenced policies and resulted in barriers to implementation. This article contributes to efforts to identify and tailor implementation strategies that can encourage the use of evidence-informed practices to improve the well-being of LGBTQ youth and other health disparity populations.
Implement Res Pract
Gunderson LM, Shattuck DG, Green AE, Vitous CA, Ramos MM, Willging CE. Amplification of school-based strategies resulting from the application of the dynamic adaptation process to reduce sexual and gender minority youth suicide. Implement Res Pract. 2021 Jan-Dec;2:10.1177/2633489520986214. doi: 10.1177/2633489520986214. Epub 2021 Feb 1. PMID: 35224500; PMCID: PMC8872089.