Definitions of sustainability for evidence-based programs (EBP) vary widely in academic literature. They depend on how one answers each of the following four questions (adapted from Francis et al., 2016):
- What is the timeframe for a sustained program (for example, 1, 5, or 10 years)?
- What is being sustained: the program, the client outcomes, or the institutional processes?
- When do adaptations shift the program from being sustained to being a new type of program?
- What outcome measures will be used to determine whether sustainability goals have been met?
It is also essential to be aware, and have a plan for, sustaining implementation supports. As you define sustainability for your organization, keep in mind the need to have timely and effective training, coaching, fidelity assessments, and a continued commitment to quality improvement. For users who would like an in-depth review of scientific literature on Sustainability of Evidence-based practices, you may want to read this literature summary on Sustainability.
The implementation section of the Learning Center can also assist you consider and plan for sustainability.