What is implementation?

Implementation is a continuous process that includes a set of activities designed to put a program or activity (that we know works) into practice. Moving from research to the real world can be difficult. It can be hard to match scientific findings to the specific needs of a community and its members. Implementation is the deliberate but flexible path to using evidence effectively.

In a community-based approach to youth suicide prevention, risk management and postvention, implementation happens at different levels. At one level, you're implementing an action plan for mobilizing your community in response to youth suicide. Within your community’s action plan, you’re implementing targeted, evidence-informed interventions designed to change behaviour. What are the key pieces included in your action plan? What targeted intervention is your community planning to perform? For example, are you implementing gatekeeper training for identified gatekeepers in the community? Or are you implementing a postvention protocol? How will you know that the outcomes of your efforts can truly be attributed to the interventions themselves? Implementation helps you understand the details in how your action plan and these interventions are rolled out.

Why is implementation important?

It takes 17 years for research to make its way into practice1. But with effective implementation planning, this can be shortened to three years. Effective implementation is essential to reinforce your community-based approach to youth suicide prevention, risk management and postvention. It will help you ensure that you’re delivering the best possible care in your community. It also gives you a chance to stop and reflect on some important questions. Where is the best place to start? What does your community need? Who should you involve and when? How can you sustain your efforts?

Implementation helps you:

understand your impact

  • How are you changing things in your community?
  • Implementation helps link the quality of your work to the outcomes of your efforts

explore how things work

  • How do pieces fit together in your community efforts?
  • Implementation gives you insight into how community members interact and what challenges they face.

explain changes

  • How do you know whether your activities have resulted in the changes you see?
  • Implementation helps you understand and respond to any observed changes in outcomes in your community

do better

  • How can you improve your communitiy's efforts?
  • Implementation data provides a source of ongoing feedback that's useful for continuous improvement.

share what works

  • How can others learn from you?
  • By reflecting and documenting your community's efforts, you can help share what works (and what doesn't) in the real world.



Ready to get going with implementing your community mobilization efforts? Click here to jump to How do you do it?

  • 1. Morris, Z. S., Wooding, S., & Grant, J. (2011). The answer is 17 years, what is the question: understanding time lags in translational research. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 104(12), 510-520.