What Makes Implementation Research Work?

It is certainly powerful to have an intervention tool — a method for creating positive change for those in need — at your disposal. But how can this tool be effectively deployed by those implementing on a daily basis?

Last month, Timothy Hunt, PhD, Associate Director of the Social Intervention Group (SIG), set out to answer this question and presented recent findings on the efficacy of a training strategy at The Society for Implementation Research Collaboration (SIRC) in Seattle, Washington.


The Society for Implementation Research Collaboration (SIRC), located in Seattle, WA, is a society dedicated to facilitating communication and collaboration between implementation research teams, researchers, and community providers. SIRC aims to bring together researchers and stakeholders committed to the rigorous evaluation of implementation of evidence based psychosocial interventions.

Dr. Hunt shared SIG’s work on couples-based HIV/STI prevention and mediators impacting implementation of SIG’s evidence-based intervention CONNECT HIP. ConnectHIP (High Impact Prevention) is an innovative, three-session, couple-based intervention tailored to target the intersection of sexual risk behavior and substance use among racial/ethnic and sexual minorities, with the ultimate goal of providing an evidence-based HIV/STI prevention intervention that can be delivered in a variety of settings.

The Social Intervention Group (SIG) spearheaded the use of couples-based interventions in the late 1990s. Since that time, this intervention has been adapted and used by many organizations globally.

Building on the work of SIG collaborators, Dr. Hunt examined how technical assistance (TA) dosage on mediators associated with intention to implement couple-based HIV/STI prevention post training and TA.

In the study, 250 staff were recruited from HIV service agencies, clinics and community-based organizations from New York City and other regions of New York State. Participants received an in-class intervention training followed by a technical assistance phone call at three- and six-months post-training. The findings, published in the paper Mediation Analysis of the Efficacy of a Training and Technical Assistance Implementation Strategy on Intention to Implement a Couple-based HIV/STI Prevention Intervention, suggest that:

“…Greater exposure to the implementation strategy in days and contacts was significantly associated with an increase in staff’s intention to implement the intervention at six months. Additionally, early follow-up post training and technical assistance are needed to bolster effects on intention of the implementation strategy.”


SIRC conference. Image courtesy SIRC (Twitter).

Dr. Nathaniel J. Williams, PhD, LCSW, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Boise State University, stated,

“”Only six randomized control trials [in all fields] were identified in a meta-analysis that looked at implementation strategies and their mediating effects. This study [Hunt’s] was needed to continue to fill in the gap about what implementation strategies work and how.”

Implementation science continues to take focus in domestic and global health. SIG has been at the forefront in this evolving field since few studies have examined comparative effects of behavioral interventions which incorporate medical strategies and at the same time used multimedia platforms.

SIG is now designing e-book applications and interventions and studying their uptake in real-world settings like jails, primary care clinics and harm reduction services.

Read the associated publication, authored by Dr. Hunt, to learn more: Mediation Analysis of the Efficacy of a Training and Technical Assistance Implementation Strategy on Intention to Implement a Couple-based HIV/STI Prevention Intervention

Learn about implementing the CONNECT HIP intervention.

Dr. Timothy Hunt