The Importance of Program Fidelity in Explaining Research Outcomes: An Examination of Parents Participating in the Strengthening Washington, D.C. Families Project

Danielle M. Polizzi, University of Maryland at College Park

Few evaluations of large-scale family-based interventions have examined the extent to which program fidelity influences outcomes. Information gained on how well the program is implemented and on participants understanding of the program material are likely to be two key aspects of program fidelity that relate to research outcomes. This paper examines the extent to which program fidelity is related to differences in parenting outcomes from pre- to post-test. Measures of program fidelity are obtained through observations of parent trainers conducted by research staff and from session reviews completed by parents at the end of the training sessions. Forty-two observations have been conducted and 470 parent sessions reviews have been completed. The research answers the following questions: 1) Is the level of program implementation related to participants= comprehension of the program material? 2) Does the fidelity of the program influence parenting outcomes from pre- to post-test? The overarching goal of the research is to increase the field=s understanding of the importance of implementation quality in the assessment of program outcomes.

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Updated 05/20/2006