Adopting evidence-based practices: Implementation Science for sustainability and community investment

  • Published: 15 August 2018
  • Author: Karen Pong

A common drawback of many community investment and sustainability programs is the lack of tangible evidence to prove that the outcomes and impact can be attributed to the program and its activities. Many practitioners may shy away from conducting program review and assessment for fear of learning unfavourable results. Others would say that they rather spend the money on project implementation instead of conducting a review, disregarding the risks of wasting money on a project that has limited evidence of success.

Implementation Science and evidence-based practices bridges the gap between research and program implementation by examining ways to move and adopt effective interventions into practice. This idea originated in the health services sector and is defined as “the scientific study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of research findings and other evidence-based practiced into routine practice, and, hence, to improve the quality and effectiveness of health services.”1. For example, a case study published by Cabassa Leopoldo, a scholar from the School of Social Work at Columbia University, demonstrated how implementation science could help address racial/ethnic disparities in mental health care in the United States.

With increasing involvement of the private sector in advocating and financing development projects, especially in the areas of education and public health, this evidence-based approach of Implementation Science can help understand and improve the efficacy of corporate community investment innovations.

The Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI) pioneered the effort to use the evidence in practice and policy to help practitioners, program managers and service delivery executives better plan the implementation of projects that are designed to serve children and families facing adversity. They work in the following areas to achieve this:

  • Generate evidence and then translate and disseminate this evidence to assist in the design of effective programs and evidence-informed policy.
  • Build capacity within organisations to effectively implement proven programs and policies. By applying implementation science, services are strengthened.
  • Evaluate programs to assess outcomes and understand how programs achieve results for service users.

With offices in Australia and Singapore, and partnerships across the globe, CEI has worked with government and non-government agencies and intermediary agencies across Australia, in Singapore and in the UK. Working with the Government of Singapore, CEI is implementing a one-year training and consultation plan for the Ministry of Social Development and Families and its Implementation of Clinical Interventions Unit to equip government staff with skills to implement evidence-based strategies. CEI has also committed to a pioneering multi-year partnership with the Government of Singapore to support their KidSTART initiative by carrying out a robust and comprehensive evaluation of the benefits for the children and families and the financial viability of expanding the initiative to benefit more children nationwide.

Practitioners and policymakers can apply implementation science in their innovations. The process of implementation takes place in three stages: pre-planning, early implementation and full implementation. For the pre-planning process, one would need to consider all the factors that would enable or undermine implementation. Practitioners try to find answers to questions including what kind of training needs to be accessed, what kind of organisational systems need to be changed to enable the things to be implemented and what kind of data needs to be collected to provide full pictures of the reach, implementation and outcomes of the program. The early implementation would feature the trial of a new policy, program, or practice, which is followed by full implementation.

Join the discussion at CSR Asia Summit 2018, Hong Kong, 18-19 September

To promote understanding of Implementation Science and the evidence based practices, CSR Asia invited Dr. Robyn Mildon, Executive Director of CEI to deliver a pre-summit training on Community Investment and Impact Measurement and speak at the Social Impact breakout session at CSR Asia Summit 2018. CEI is a not-for-profit intermediary organisation dedicated to using the best evidence in practice and policy to improve the lives of children, families and communities facing adversity. It has specialist skills in:

  • Supporting sustained change in the behaviour of systems, organisations and individuals. Putting a strong emphasis on supporting and strengthening the core components of effective program implementation.
  • Providing knowledge translation to policymakers, and relevant stakeholders, so they can access – and use – research for evidence-informed decision-making.
  • Program design – selecting and creating evidence-informed programs and services to achieve outcomes for children, family and communities.
  • Conducting rigorous evaluations and assessing the long-term effect of outcomes.

The breakout session will feature an introduction to science-based evidence to understand the effectiveness of programs and policies by CEI and showcase real life case studies of applying this approach in programs by practitioners. We look forward to discussing with you how Implementation Science and evidence-based approach can help enhance the effectiveness of your community investment projects.

For more information contact [email protected]


Implementation science: what is it? – by Social Ventures Australia Quarterly (2018)

1.An introduction to implementation science for the non-specialist, Mark S. Bauer, corresponding author Laura Damschroder, Hildi Hagedorn, Jeffrey Smith, and Amy M. Kilbourne (2015)