Skip to main content
- Select Youth Topics -
American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Youth
Bullying Prevention (stopbullying.gov)
Children of Incarcerated Parents
Dating Violence Prevention
Expectant and Parenting Young Families
Financial Capability & Literacy
Gang Involvement Prevention
Homelessness and Runaway
Positive Youth Development
Preparedness & Recovery
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Transition & Aging Out
Map My Community
Federal Funding Sources
Common Proposal Components
Preparing to Apply
Register with Grants.gov
Federal Data Resources
Federal Youth Funding
Using Evidence Home
Selecting Evidence-Based Programs
Implementing and Adapting
Monitoring and Evaluating
Investing In Evidence
Investing in What Works
Federal Understanding of the Evidence Base
Featured Grant Opportunity
Harm Reduction Grant Program (Funding Opportunity)
Investing in What Works
IWW Iinfographic Contextual Fit
IWW Iinfographic Contextual Fit
What does contextual fit look like in practice?
Examples of the impact that contextual fit can have on implementation are available in every discipline. Consider one intervention focused on reducing substance abuse developed in the Midwest that emphasized both the development of after-school community activities and family support. The intervention had been used with significant success in two midwestern states and was highly anticipated by community organizers in an urban west coast context. Unfortunately, there was no effort to assess whether the roles, responsibilities, and specific strategies of the intervention were valued by and culturally comfortable with the families, youth, or local professionals. The poor match between the vision that parents in the host city had for themselves and the expectations of the intervention led to both poor-quality implementation and no change in substance abuse levels. (Additional examples in brief, pages 8-9.)
What are the policy implications of contextual fit?
One reason contextual fit has received muted attention is that there is no accepted approach for how to measure it. Horner and colleagues (2003) provide one possible approach in their 16-item assessment of contextual fit (each item is rated on a 6-point Likert-like scale). Although this self-assessment has been used in studies assessing the contextual fit of behavior support plans in school, home, and community settings, and the resulting outcome score has been correlated with fidelity of implementation, it has not been extended to studies or interventions outside of education. Currently, no contextual fit measure with documented psychometric properties can be used to evaluate the implementation of a broad range of evidence-based interventions across educational, mental health, juvenile justice, and community contexts. (More information in brief, pages 9-10.)
What are the research implications of contextual fit?
For contextual fit to assume the role it is touted to fill in implementation science, a concerted effort is needed to build a solid empirical foundation. Three initial steps for future research are needed: (a) developing technically adequate measures of contextual fit, (b) documenting the role of contextual fit in the effectiveness and efficiency of implementation, and (c) determining the extent to which questions of contextual fit can be used to assess readiness for implementation. (Details in brief, page 11.)
“Intervention” refers to a procedure, or set of procedures designed for use in a specific context (or set of contexts) by a specific set of users to achieve defined outcomes for (a) defined population(s).
1a. Is the outcome of the intervention highly valued?
1b. Is the level of current success low enough that there is a need for something different according to:
• Those receiving support (children, youth, families, clients)
• Those providing support
• Those responsible for effective support (administrators, community members, political leaders)
2a. Is the proposed intervention defined with clarity and is detail provided to determine what is done, by whom, when, and why? Are core features defined? Are strategies for achieving the core features defined?
3a. Does empirical evidence exist that the implementation of the core features results in valued outcomes? Does the evidence document the target population, setting conditions, and usability conditions in which valued outcomes were achieved?
4a. Are the time and effort for initial adoption reasonable?
4b. Are the time and effort for sustained adoption as efficient or more efficient than current interventions (given the outcomes generated)?
5a. Are the skills needed to implement the intervention defined?
5b. Are materials and procedures available to establish needed skills?
5c. Does the level of skill development fit professional standards and or the organizational staffing structure?
6a. Are the outcomes of the intervention valued by those who receive them?
6b. Are the strategies and procedures consistent with the personal values of those who will perform them?
6c. Are the strategies and procedures consistent with the personal values of those who will receive them?
7a. What time, funding, and materials are required for initial adoption?
7b. What training, coaching, and performance feedback are needed for high-fidelity implementation?
7c. What time, funding, and materials are required for sustained adoption?
7d. What fidelity measures are needed to ensure monitoring of an implementation?
8a. Is adoption of the intervention supported by key leaders?
8b. Will adoption of the intervention be monitored by key leaders?
8c. Will fidelity and impact of the intervention be monitored by key leaders?
8d. Is there a documented commitment to make the intervention a standard operating procedure?
Contextual fit influences the implementation process at three points.
An intervention should match the skills, values, and resources of those in the implementation context—that is, those who are providing, supporting, and receiving the intervention.
Initial Implementation of EBI
The way an intervention is introduced can determine whether it is accepted and adopted by both the community and service providers. The timing, amount, format, and integration of training into an existing service setting can affect the likelihood that the new intervention will be implemented well and yield positive results.
Ongoing Implementation and Scaling Up of EBI
The sustained use of an intervention may depend on implementers’ ability to continually adapt the intervention as conditions in the setting evolve. Adaptations need to be developed with full consideration of the extent to which they “fit” with the skills, values, and resources of those who use and benefit from the intervention.