Effectiveness of a Multi-System Leadership Strategy for Using Evidence During Sustainment of ASD Interventions

Will training in the use of research evidence enable mid-level leaders in education and mental health systems to sustain evidence-based interventions for children with autism?

Although evidence-based interventions are valuable for improving child outcomes, agencies that adopt these interventions have few supports for sustaining them over time and for drawing on evidence in broader ways to meet other client needs. This study offers the rare opportunity to test the impact of a leadership training module to assist mid-level managers in using evidence to sustain existing interventions and address emerging client needs. Stahmer and colleagues will build off two cluster randomized trials focused on improving the implementation climate for evidence-based interventions in education and mental health clinics serving children with autism. The leadership training module will include didactic training, assessment-based activities, and goal development along with bi-monthly coaching calls and a booster session. The module will build leaders’ understanding of how to access and evaluate research evidence and local data to determine whether to sustain or de-adopt existing evidence-based interventions, as well as adopt new evidence-based interventions to meet additional client needs. The team will utilize a step-wedged randomized controlled trial using a mixed-methods design with surveys and interviews to test the effectiveness of the module and study organizational barriers and facilitators of the use of research evidence. Ultimately, findings from this study may fill gaps in knowledge about how the use of evidence shapes implementation of interventions over time.