Organizations are typically motivated to implement EBPs by a desire to promote the health and well-being of individuals in their communities. Program personnel often hold high expectations regarding the outcomes of their programs and grow discouraged when challenges are encountered. Three key concepts related to evidence-based programming are described below. Considering these concepts can help you and fellow personnel prepare to encounter challenges and form expectations that are realistic.
- It is hard to change health-related behaviors. Most EBPs help participants accomplish behavior change (e.g., smoking cessation, initiating exercise, eating nutritiously). Changing deep-seated behaviors is very hard to do! Participants often know behavior change is difficult because they have tried to change their behaviors before. If they were able to change these behaviors easily, they would do so on their own and have no need for the programs. The difficulty associated with behavior change is important to keep in mind because it is one reason why participants are hesitant to take part in programs and why they sometimes drop out of programs. Additionally, it may be one reason why program outcomes are often more modest than program personnel had hoped. Keep in mind that even small changes can be cause for celebration—they may be catalysts for increased change in the future!
- Participants will not necessarily attend a program simply because it is offered. One might think that participants would automatically be eager to take part in an available program that would benefit them, but this is often not the case. Sometimes potential participants do not take part because they do not realize what a program entails and how much it might benefit them. Some participants may not have time to take part in the program or may feel uncomfortable stepping out of their comfort zones. Other participants may be unable to attend due to lack of transportation or because loved ones do not support their participation. Subsequently, it is useful for organizations to minimize barriers to participating in programs (e.g., offer them at low costs or for free, hold sessions in convenient locations, help arrange for transportation) while maximizing the benefits (e.g., target relevant health needs, offer incentives). Organizations can emphasize the great benefits and minimized barriers when marketing their programs.
- The goal of implementing your program is positive outcomes. Your organization is motivated to implement an EBP to promote the health and well-being of seniors in your community. Keep this at the forefront of your mind as you move forward. Try not to grow discouraged or overconfident due to things like attendance rates or your program’s popularity—these are not accurate indicators of success. Though evaluation activities require effort and are sometimes tedious, it is important to complete them. The only accurate way to determine the success of your program is by examining outcomes through evaluation (see Evaluation Planning for more information).
Keep these concepts in mind as you begin implementing your EBP. You will inevitably encounter challenges, but using the resources provided with your program and those in this toolkit will help you achieve your goal of promoting the health and well-being of the seniors served by your organization.