A Systematic Review of Evidence-Based Practice Implementation in Drug and Alcohol Settings: Applying the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research Framework



There is a paucity of translational research programmes to improve implementation of evidence-based care in drug and alcohol settings. This systematic review aimed to provide a synthesis and evaluation of the effectiveness of implementation programmes of treatment for patients with drug and alcohol problems using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR).


A comprehensive systematic review was conducted using five online databases (from inception onwards). Eligible studies included clinical trials and observational studies evaluating strategies used to implement evidence-based psychosocial treatments for alcohol and substance use disorders. Extracted data were qualitatively synthesised for common themes according to the CFIR. Primary outcomes included the implementation, service system or clinical practice. Risk of bias of individual studies was appraised using appropriate tools. A protocol was registered with (PROSPERO) (CRD42019123812) and published previously (Louie et al. Systematic 9:2020).


Of the 2965 references identified, twenty studies were included in this review. Implementation research has employed a wide range of strategies to train clinicians in a few key evidence-based approaches to treatment. Implementation strategies were informed by a range of theories, with only two studies using an implementation framework (Baer et al. J Substance Abuse Treatment 37:191-202, 2009) used Context-Tailored Training and Helseth et al. J Substance Abuse Treatment 95:26-34, 2018) used the CFIR). Thirty of the 36 subdomains of the CFIR were evaluated by included studies, but the majority were concerned with the Characteristics of Individuals domain (75%), with less than half measuring Intervention Characteristics (45%) and Inner Setting constructs (25%), and only one study measuring the Outer Setting and Process domains. The most common primary outcome was the effectiveness of implementation strategies on treatment fidelity. Although several studies found clinician characteristics influenced the implementation outcome (40%) and many obtained clinical outcomes (40%), only five studies measured service system outcomes and only four studies evaluated the implementation.


While research has begun to accumulate in domains such as Characteristics of Individuals and Intervention Characteristics (e.g. education, beliefs and attitudes and organisational openness to new techniques), this review has identified significant gaps in the remaining CFIR domains including organisational factors, external forces and factors related to the process of the implementation itself. Findings of the review highlight important areas for future research and the utility of applying comprehensive implementation frameworks.

Louie, E., Barrett, E.L., Baillie, A. et al. A systematic review of evidence-based practice implementation in drug and alcohol settings: applying the consolidated framework for implementation research framework. Implementation Sci 16, 22 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13012-021-01090-7
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