Investing in What Works

Progress in implementation science over the last two decades allows our nation to reap important gains from years of investing in rigorous evaluation of evidence-based programs. We are now able to identify the most effective programs, and adopt them widely to achieve large-scale positive outcomes in health and well-being for children, youth and families.

To further advance this field, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (HHS ASPE) contracted with AIR’s Health and Social Development Program to increase understanding of the return on investments in evaluating prevention and intervention programs, and how to reduce the research-to-practice gap.

Investing in What Works (IWW) is a two-year initiative from 2012-2014 that is coordinating several federal agencies to focus on the following:

  • Approaches to evaluating multiple evidence-based programs taking place in a single setting
  • Strategies to support selection, implementation, and alignment of the most effective evidence-based training and technical assistance
  • Measures of return on investment for prevention and intervention programs and initiatives

To launch IWW, AIR conducted a systematic literature review of these issues and is engaging key stakeholders, including an Expert Panel of researchers and private sector representatives. AIR is also convening action-orientated strategy meetings, the first of which was held in June 2013.

Key products from the 2013 meeting include a video record of researchers’ presentations; a meeting report that highlights themes and next steps; and three issue briefs that summarize policy and practice recommendations. The issue briefs focus on understanding readiness to implement evidence-based programs; dimensions of fit to consider when selecting evidence-based programs; and implementation milestones to assess progress through the phases of program implementation.

Results from IWW will increase our knowledge of how to guide development, implementation and evaluation of Federal initiatives and investments in evidence-based programs.