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Adapting Evidence-Based Interventions Using a Common Theory, Practices, and Principles

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Hundreds of validated evidence-based intervention programs (EBIP) aim to improve families' well-being; however, most are not broadly adopted. As an alternative diffusion strategy, we created wellness centers to reach families' everyday lives with a prevention framework. At two wellness centers, one in a middle-class neighborhood and one in a low-income neighborhood, popular local activity leaders (instructors of martial arts, yoga, sports, music, dancing, Zumba), and motivated parents were trained to be Family Mentors. Trainings focused on a framework that taught synthesized, foundational prevention science theory, practice elements, and principles, applied to specific content areas (parenting, social skills, and obesity). Family Mentors were then allowed to adapt scripts and activities based on their cultural experiences but were closely monitored and supervised over time. The framework was implemented in a range of activities (summer camps, coaching) aimed at improving social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes. Successes and challenges are discussed for (a) engaging parents and communities; (b) identifying and training Family Mentors to promote children and families' well-being; and (c) gathering data for supervision, outcome evaluation, and continuous quality improvement. To broadly diffuse prevention to families, far more experimentation is needed with alternative and engaging implementation strategies that are enhanced with knowledge harvested from researchers' past 30 years of experience creating EBIP. One strategy is to train local parents and popular activity leaders in applying robust prevention science theory, common practice elements, and principles of EBIP. More systematic evaluation of such innovations is needed.

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