Assessing Causal Pathways and Targets of Implementation Variability for EBP use (Project ACTIVE): a study protocol

Emily M. Becker-Haimes, David S. Mandell, Jessica Fishman, Nathaniel J. Williams, Courtney Benjamin Wolk, Katherine Wislocki, Danielle Reich, Temma Schaechter, Megan Brady, Natalie J. Maples, Torrey A. Creed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Advancing causal implementation theory is critical for designing tailored implementation strategies that target specific mechanisms associated with evidence-based practice (EBP) use. This study will test the generalizability of a conceptual model that integrates organizational constructs and behavioral theory to predict clinician use of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques in community mental health centers. CBT is a leading psychosocial EBP for psychiatric disorders that remains underused despite substantial efforts to increase its implementation. Methods: We will leverage ongoing CBT implementation efforts in two large public health systems (Philadelphia and Texas) to recruit 300 mental health clinicians and 600 of their clients across 40 organizations. Our primary implementation outcomes of interest are clinician intentions to use CBT and direct observation of clinician use of CBT. As CBT comprises discrete components that vary in complexity and acceptability, we will measure clinician use of six discrete components of CBT. After finishing their CBT training, participating clinicians will complete measures of organizational and behavior change constructs delineated in the model. Clinicians also will be observed twice via audio recording delivering CBT with a client. Within 48 h of each observation, theorized moderators of the intention-behavior gap will be collected via survey. A subset of clinicians who report high intentions to use CBT but demonstrate low use will be purposively recruited to complete semi-structured interviews assessing reasons for the intention-behavior gap. Multilevel path analysis will test the extent to which intentions and determinants of intention predict the use of each discrete CBT component. We also will test the extent to which theorized determinants of intention that include psychological, organizational, and contextual factors explain variation in intention and moderate the association between intentions and CBT use. Discussion: Project ACTIVE will advance implementation theory, currently in its infancy, by testing the generalizability of a promising causal model of implementation. These results will inform the development of implementation strategies targeting modifiable factors that explain substantial variance in intention and implementation that can be applied broadly across EBPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number144
JournalImplementation Science Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Behavior change theory
  • Causal model
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Community mental health
  • Implementation science
  • Organizational theory
  • Theory of planned behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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