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Implementation Fidelity Assessment

Implementation fidelity studies are an interim step between program design and outcomes assessment. As shown in the diagram below, implementation fidelity studies examine the extent to which the program or intervention was implemented as planned.

Conceptual Model

Implementation Fidelity Assessment Conceptual Model. 3 yellow boxes at the top of the image. The far left box is labeled program design with an arrow pointing to the middle box labeled program implementation with an arrow pointing to the right box labeled program outcomes. Below the middle box is a green box that says implementation fidelity with an arrow pointing to the yellow program implementation box, a green box labeled adherence, and a green box labeled quality.

Implementation fidelity studies always include two critical elements: 1) adherence (how closely the implemented program or event aligns with what was planned), and 2) quality (the level of performance of the implemented program or event). When assessing adherence, auditors (as they are sometimes called) examine how closely the actual program activities match with what was originally planned. This may include the amount of time spent on the program element, the coverage of the topic, or even whether the planned component was included in the presented program. When assessing quality, auditors assess clarity, how compelling or memorable the element was, the appropriateness of the delivery technique, and so on. (More in-depth implementation fidelity studies may also include assessment of exposure and responsiveness. For more information see Gerstner and Finney, 2013.)

Why should I do an implementation fidelity study?

There are many reasons to do an implementation fidelity study:

When assessing a program or service it is important to know whether or not the program or service is being implemented as planned. Implementation fidelity studies provide another way to think through the design of a program. Implementation fidelity studies ask program designers to carefully plan each element of a program, state a purpose or goal for each element, and estimate how much time they will have to spend on each program element. Implementation fidelity studies are a relatively easy way to identify aspects of a program that need to be improved.

Next Steps

If you are ready to get started on your implementation fidelity study, you can use the template below to begin your work.
Template for Implementation Fidelity Study
View a Checklist for Implementation Fidelity Assessment.
View PowerPoint Slides for Implementation Fidelity Assessment.

Feel free to self-audit your program or service, or identify a colleague to serve as the auditor for your study.

If you have additional questions, please contact If you have already completed an implementation fidelity study, please consider sharing summary of your results or any improvements or suggestions you have for the template.

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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 6, 2017 1:12:00 PM