The emergence of dissemination and implementation (D&I) science has driven a rapid increase in studies of how new scientific discoveries are translated and developed into evidence-based programs and policies. However, D&I science has paid much less attention to what happens to programs once they have been implemented. Public health programs can only deliver benefits if they reach maturity and sustain activities over time. In order to achieve the full benefits of significant investment in public health research and program development, there must be an understanding of the factors that relate to sustainability to inform development of tools and trainings to support strategic long-term program sustainability. Tobacco control programs, specifically, vary in their abilities to support and sustain themselves over time. As of 2018, most states still do not meet the CDC-recommended level for funding their TC program, allowing tobacco use to remain the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the USA. The purpose of this study is to empirically develop, test, and disseminate training programs to improve the sustainability of evidence-based state tobacco control programs and thus, tobacco-related health outcomes.
This paper describes the methods of a group randomized, multi-phase study that evaluates the empirically developed “Program Sustainability Action Planning Training” and technical assistance in US state-level tobacco control programs. Phase 1 includes developing the sustainability action planning training curriculum and technical assistance protocol and developing measures to assess long-term program sustainability. Phase 2 includes a group randomized trial to test the effectiveness of the training and technical assistance in improving sustainability outcomes in 24 state tobacco control programs (12 intervention, 12 comparison). Phase 3 includes the active dissemination of final training curricula materials to a broader public health audience.
Empirical evidence has established that program sustainability can improve through training and technical assistance; however, to our knowledge, no evidence-based sustainability training curriculum program exists. Therefore, systematic methods are needed to develop, test, and disseminate a training that improves the sustainability of evidence-based programs.
NCT03598114. Registered 25 July 2018—retrospectively registered.