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Research into Practice

A growing emphasis on evidence-based practice and the way in which research, knowledge and skills are translated into practice are major challenges for the AOD workforce. Evidence-based practice is one of the major drivers of workforce change and requires the translation of research into practical strategies for workers.

A wide range of research-based innovations, such as treatment interventions, tools (e.g., those used for screening), programs and guidelines, have been developed to minimise the harms related to AOD use. Despite a substantial investment of resources into the development, validation and evaluation of effective innovations, once distributed, they frequently languish unused due to a lack of investment into helping potential users understand, adopt and implement the innovation.

Frontline workers in the AOD field come from a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds, including medicine, social work, psychology, teaching and the criminal justice system. As a result, their educational qualifications, training in AOD issues, and understanding or appreciation of research varies considerably. Other factors, such as the rapid turnover of staff, poor pay, and overall low status, may impact on their capacity and motivation to adopt new research concepts and implement innovations. Consequently, effective dissemination strategies must bridge the conceptual and cultural distance between the research centre and the AOD workforce. This may require tailoring dissemination strategies for the very disparate target audiences that make up the AOD workforce.

NCETA has undertaken a major systematic review of the effectiveness of dissemination and implementation strategies. One hundred and ten studies (including 25 existing systematic reviews) were evaluated. A resource package was developed including a CD-Rom containing 70 annotated PowerPoint slides that examined the effectiveness and costs of implementation strategies and the theories and models of change. Copies of the resource package (including the CD-Rom) can be downloaded from the NCETA Resources below.

Examples of successful dissemination strategies which assist researchers, frontline workers and other workers in the AOD field include (but are not limited to):

  • Clear, succinct messages
    • Simple, focussed objectives
    • Small practical changes
  • Reliable, credible source
    • Accurate, evidence-based information
  • Interactive format
    • Appealing, persuasive
    • Encourages participation
  • Tailored information
    • personalised and modified to the local setting
  • Relevant information
    • Practitioner and client needs
  • Clear identification of roles and activities
  • Accessible systems/procedures
    • Easy to use
    • Minimal effort for compliance
  • Assessment of, and focus on barriers to change
  • Address changes at multiple levels
    • Individual practitioner behaviour
    • Organisational structure and culture
    • Health system policy
  • Organisational changes that require practitioners to respond or take action (e.g., automatic prompts and obligatory responses)
  • Reinforced messages, with additional materials and support
  • Sustainability of strategy over a prolonged period

Contextual factors that may enhance the effectiveness of dissemination strategies also include:

  • identifying the need for change
  • making the target audience aware of the need to change and motivating them to change
  • providing adequate resources and staffing to integrate changes into existing systems
  • evaluating and monitoring the fidelity of an innovation over time to ensure that all staff are "with the program". 

Fig 1_pg7_Effective dissemination_costs.jpg
















Figure 1: Stages involved from development through to implementing a dissemination strategy  

 NCETA Resources 

Effective Dissemination systematic review.jpgEffective Dissemination: A Systematic Review of Implementation Strategies for the AOD Field [pdf, 11067KB]



Effective Dissemination exam costs implement.jpgEffective Dissemination: An Examination of the Costs of Implementation Strategies for the AOD Field [pdf, 4015]



Effective Dissemination exam theories.jpgEffective Dissemination: An Examination of the Theories and Models of Change for Research Dissemination [pdf, 7053KB]



powerpoint.jpgEffective Dissemination: An examination of the effectiveness and costs of implementation strategies and the theories and models of change [ppt, 1.75MB]


Order Resources

These resources may be ordered individually or as a kit. The kit contains hard copies of the above resources as well as the CD Rom version: Bywood, P., Lunnay, B., Terao, H., & Roche, A. (2008). Effective Dissemination: A 3-part series on dissemination and implementation strategies for the AOD field. Adelaide: National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA), Flinders University.

Click here to order hard copies of the above resources.

Peer Reviewed Publications

Bywood, P., Lunnay, B., & Roche, A. M. (2009). Effectiveness of opinion leaders for getting research into practice in the alcohol and other drugs field: Results from a systematic literature review. Drugs: Education, prevention and policy, 16(3), 205-216.

Bywood, P.T., Lunnay, B., & Roche, A.M. (2008). Strategies for facilitating change in alcohol and other drugs (AOD) professional practice: a sytematic review of the effectiveness of reminders and feedback. Drug and Alcohol Review, 27, 548-558.

Bywood, P. (2006). Judging the research: Tools for best practice. Of Substance, 4, 28-29.

Other Resources

Davies, H., & Nutley, S. (2002). Discussion paper 2: Evidence-based policy and practice: Moving from rhetoric to reality. Research Unit for Research Utilisation: University of St. Andrews.

Evans, K. (2001). Research into practice: Managing complexity. In A.M. Roche & D. McDonald (Eds.), Systems, settings, people: Workforce development challenges for the alcohol and other drugs field. Adelaide: NCETA, Flinders University. 

Backer, T.E. (2000). The failure of success: Challenges of disseminating effective substance abuse prevention programs. Journal of Community Psychology, 28(3), 363-373.

Bero, L.A., Grilli, R., Grimshaw, J.M., Harvey, E., Oxman, A.D., & Thomson, M.A. (1998). Closing the gap between research and practice: An overview of systematic reviews of interventions to promote the implementation of research findings. British Medical Journal, 317, 465-468.