The "Retrofitting" Approach to Adapting Evidence-Based Interventions

A Case Study of Pediatric Asthma Care Coordination, United States, 2010–2014

Published in: Preventing Chronic Disease, v. 13, E114, Aug. 2016

Posted on RAND.org on September 14, 2016

by Mary Janevic, Shelley Stoll, Marielena Lara, Gilberto Ramos Valencia, Tyra Bryant-Stephens, Victoria W Persky, Kimberly E. Uyeda, Julie K. Lesch, Floyd Malveaux

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Adaptation of evidence-based interventions upon implementation into new practice settings is universal, yet poorly understood. During a cross-site evaluation of the implementation of a proven intervention for pediatric asthma care coordination into 4 resource-challenged settings, we conducted in-depth interviews with site representatives, who reported how and why they modified intervention components. Interview notes were coded for themes. We focused on a single theme from a respondent who described the adaptation process as "backing" the intervention into ongoing services; we found evidence of a similar process at other sites. We labeled this process "retrofitting" to signify adaptation that consists of altering existing services to align with intervention components, rather than modifying the intervention to fit a new setting. Advantages of retrofitting may include allowing organizations to keep what works, capitalizing on existing support for program activities, elevating the role of local knowledge, and potentially promoting the sustainability of effective innovations.

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