Activity 2: Implementing new practices—Is your agency well suited to do this?

| 0
Topic Progress:


In this activity, you will read three peer-reviewed articles that will help to answer the following question: How well are we doing with the implementation of innovative evidence-based practices? A major concern in the field of problematic substance use treatment and prevention is that we are extremely slow in moving innovative evidence-based treatment approaches into practice and that we continue to use many long-standing practices that have been proven ineffective. In the research literature, this state of affairs often is referred to as the “knowledge-to-practice gap.”

The first paper is by Miller, Sorensen, Selzer, and Brigham (2006). William Miller is a senior addictions researcher and the developer of Motivational Interviewing (MI). He also is one of the editors of your course textbook—Rethinking Substance Abuse: What the Science Shows, and What We Should Do About it.

The second article by Garner (2009) is an updated systematic review of the diffusion of evidence-based treatments for substance use disorders. This review, while arguing for more rigorous research methods, indicates that the attitudes towards, and the adoption of, evidence-based treatment has progressed from the late 1990s to 2008. However, since the number of studies available that have examined the implementation process of EBP are few, Garner’s study may also indicate that the substance use field is still in its infancy with respect to implementing EBP.

The third article is by Glasner-Edwards and Rawson (2010). This article was first introduced in Lesson 5; however, it is worthwhile reconsidering it at this point. The latter half of the article reviews dissemination practices and also raises a concern about the lag between research knowledge and its implementation in new practices. These authors argue that the system of care (at least in the United States) is ill-suited for the implementation of evidence-based practices. We will leave it to you to decide how well suited the Canadian systems of care are for implementing evidence-based practices.

Collectively, these papers suggest: 1) that we have a large knowledge-to-practice gap in the field of problematic substance use, 2) the possible causes of this large knowledge-to-practice gap, and 3) possible solutions for closing this gap, including building capacity for evidence-based practice.


  1. Read the following articles available through TRU library:
    • Miller, W. R., Sorensen, J. L., Selzer, J. A., Brigham, G. S. (2006). Disseminating evidence-based practices in substance abuse treatment: A review with suggestions. Journal Substance Abuse Treatment, 31 , 25–39.
    • Garner, B. (2009). Research on the diffusion of evidence-based treatment within substance abuse treatment: A systematic review. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 36, 376–399.
    • Glasner-Edwards, S., & Rawson, R. (2010). Evidence-based practices in addiction treatment: Review and recommendations for public policy. Health Policy, 97(2–3), 93–104.
  2. Ponder the following questions:
    1. How well is your agency/organization/health authority doing with implementing EBP?
    2. Is EBP accepted? Adopted? And/or implemented?
    3. Can you provide an example of how EBP has been adopted or implemented in your agency/organization/health authority?
    4. What could your organization/agency/health authority do to assist you (and your colleagues) with implementing new practices and approaches? Take the time to post your thoughts to the discussion area entitled “Implementing New Practices and Approaches.” Read your fellow learners’ posts, and comment or ask questions.