Factors that influenced county system leaders to implement an evidence-based program: A baseline survey within a randomized controlled trial

Wei Wang, Lisa Saldana, C. Hendricks Brown, Patricia Chamberlain*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the burgeoning number of well-validated interventions that have been shown in randomized trials to produce superior outcomes compared to usual services, it is estimated that only 10% of public systems deliver evidence-based mental health services. In California, for example, more than 15,000 children are placed in group homes or residential centers with some evidence of iatrogenic effects. The present study evaluates the willingness among county leaders of child public service systems to adopt a new evidence-based model, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, (MTFC), as a way to decrease the prevalence of out-of-home placements. Specifically, the study examines how county-level socio-demographic factors and child public service system leaders' perceptions of their county's organizational climate influence their decision of whether or not to consider adopting MTFC.Methods: Two levels were examined in this study: Stable and historical factors from 40 California counties gathered from public records including population size, number of entries into out-of-home care, financing of mental health services, and percent minority population; and system leaders' perceptions of their county's organizational climate and readiness for change measured via a web-based survey. The number of days-to-consent was the primary outcome variable defined as the duration of time between being notified of the opportunity to implement MTFC and the actual signing of a consent form indicating interest in considering implementation. Survival analysis methods were used to assess the predictors of this time-to-event measure. The present study is part of a larger randomized trial comparing two methods of implementation where counties are randomized to one of three time cohorts and two implementation conditions.Results: The number of entries into care was the primary predictor of days-to-consent. This variable was significantly correlated to county size. System leader's perceptions of positive climate and organizational readiness for change also contributed to but did not mediate or moderate the days-to-consent.Conclusions: System leaders' decision to consider implementing a new evidence-based model was influenced most by their objective need for the program and next by their perception of the county's organizational climate and motivation to change. These findings highlight the importance of understanding the fit between the needs of the systems or agencies and the potential for addressing those needs with the proposed new program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number72
JournalImplementation Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 6 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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