Cancer Communication Research Center

When does the study of innovation implementation happen?

I know of lots of studies of implementation that focus on a time frame past the time of adoption. That means that dissemination of an innovation occurs, some potential adopters in fact adopt, and then some of those in fact implement. And we then may study that time frame of implementation.

Most work in implementation science that I currently see, however, is something different. It is the study of implementation prior to the attempt to disseminate an innovation. This is the study of what study site implementers do with an innovation, for the objective of understanding quality of implementation, degree of fidelity, and robustness of an innovation as implemented at multiple sites. Very often, this is not implementation as a result of a voluntary adoption decision, but rather implementation as a result of a site opting in to being part of a study so that external validity of the innovation can be assessed. It's an important, prior step along the path toward understanding if an innovation should then be broadly disseminated so that subsequent diffusion outcome variables such as adoption and implementation and sustainability can be studied under real-world conditions.

I expect that those researchers who use the term mean both "stage 1" implementation and "stage 2" implementation both when they refer to implementation science. But rarely do they clarify this processual distinction.

Jim Dearing
Director/PI, CCRC

Written by CCRC at 13:05




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