Individualization and Quality Improvement: Two New Scales to Complement Measurement of Program Fidelity

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Abstract

Fidelity scales have been widely used to assess program adherence to the principles of an evidence-based practice, but they do not measure important aspects of quality of care. Pragmatic scales measuring clinical quality of services are needed to complement fidelity scales measuring structural aspects of program implementation. As part of the instrumentation developed for the National Implementing Evidence-Based Practices Project, we piloted a new instrument with two 5-item quality scales, Individualization (a client-level quality scale) and Quality Improvement (an organizational-level quality scale). Pairs of independent fidelity assessors conducted fidelity reviews in 49 sites in 8 states at baseline and at four subsequent 6-month intervals over a 2-year follow-up period. The assessors followed a standardized protocol to administer these quality scales during daylong site visits; during these same visits they assessed programs on fidelity to the evidence-based practice that the site was seeking to implement. Assessors achieved acceptable interrater reliability for both Individualization and Quality Improvement. Principal components factor analysis confirmed the 2-scale structure. The two scales were modestly correlated with each other and with the evidence-based practice fidelity scales. Over the first year, Individualization and Quality Improvement improved, but showed little or no improvement during the last year of follow-up. The two newly developed scales showed adequate psychometric properties in this preliminary study, but further research is needed to assess their validity and utility in routine clinical practice.