Challenges to evidence use are well documented. Less well understood are the formal supports—e.g., technical infrastructure, inter-organizational relationships—organizations may put in place to help overcome these challenges. This study will identify supports for evidence use currently used by private child and family serving agencies delivering publicly funded behavioral health and/or human services; examine contextual, organizational, and managerial factors associated with use of such supports; and determine how identified supports affect evidence use by staff at multiple levels of the organization.
We will use a sequential explanatory mixed methods design, with study activities occurring in two sequential phases: In phase 1, quantitative survey data collected from managers of private child and family serving agencies in six states (CA, IN, KY, MO, PA, and WI) and analyzed using both regression and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) will identify organizational supports currently being used to facilitate evidence use and examine the contextual, organizational, and managerial factors associated with the use of such supports. In phase 2, data from phase 1 will be used to select a purposive sample of 12 agencies for in-depth case studies. In those 12 agencies, semi-structured interviews with key informants and managers, focus groups with frontline staff, and document analysis will provide further insight into agencies’ motivation for investing in organizational supports for evidence use and the facilitators and barriers encountered in doing so. Semi-structured interviews with managers and focus groups with frontline staff will also assess whether and how identified supports affect evidence use at different levels of the organization (senior executives, middle managers, frontline supervisors, and frontline staff). Within- and between-case analyses supplemented by QCA will identify combinations of factors associated with the highest and lowest levels of staff evidence use.
This study will inform efforts to improve sustainment, scale-up, and spread of evidence by providing insight into organizational and managerial strategies that facilitate evidence use, the contexts in which these strategies are most effective, and their effect on evidence use by staff at different levels of the organization.