JOURNAL ARTICLE

From policy to practice: implementing frontline community health services for substance dependence—study protocol

Kathryn J Gill, Emily Campbell, Gail Gauthier, Spyridoula Xenocostas, Dara Charney, Ann C Macaulay
Implementation Science: IS 2014, 9: 108
25138688

BACKGROUND: Substance abuse is a worldwide public health concern. Extensive scientific research has shown that screening and brief interventions for substance use disorders administered in primary care provide substantial benefit at relatively low cost. Frontline health clinicians are well placed to detect and treat patients with substance use disorders. Despite effectiveness shown in research, there are many factors that impact the implementation of these practices in real-world clinical practice. Recently, the Ministry of Health and Social Services in Quebec, Canada, issued two policy documents aimed at introducing screening and early intervention for substance abuse into frontline healthcare clinics in Quebec. The current research protocol was developed in order to study the process of implementation of evidence-based addiction treatment practices at three primary care clinics in Montreal (Phase 1). In addition, the research protocol was designed to examine the efficacy of overall policy implementation, including barriers and facilitators to addictions program development throughout Quebec (Phase 2).

METHODS/DESIGN: Phase 1 will provide an in-depth case study of knowledge translation and implementation. The study protocol will utilize an integrated knowledge translation strategy to build collaborative mechanisms for knowledge exchange between researchers, addiction specialists, and frontline practitioners (guided by the principles of participatory-action research), and directly examine the process of knowledge uptake and barriers to transfer using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Evaluation will involve multiple measures, time points and domains; program uptake and effectiveness will be determined by changes in healthcare service delivery, sustainability and outcomes. In Phase 2, qualitative methods will be utilized to examine the contextual facilitators and barriers that frontline organizations face in implementing services for substance dependence. Phase 2 will provide the first study exploring the wide-scale implementation of frontline services for substance dependence in the province of Quebec and yield needed information about how to effectively implement mandated policies into clinical practice and impact public health.

DISCUSSION: Findings from this research program will contribute to the understanding of factors associated with implementation of frontline services for substance dependence and help to inform future policy and organizational support for the implementation of evidence-based practices.

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