Publication Abstract

Authors: Dearing JW

Title: Applying Diffusion of Innovation Theory to Intervention Development.

Journal: Res Soc Work Pract 19(5):503-518

Date: 2009 Sep 01

Abstract: Few social science theories have a history of conceptual and empirical study as long as does the diffusion of innovations. The robustness of this theory derives from the many disciplines and fields of study in which diffusion has been studied, from the international richness of these studies, and from the variety of new ideas, practices, programs, and technologies that have been the objects of diffusion research. Early theorizing from the beginning of the 20th century was gradually displaced by post hoc empirical research that described and explained diffusion processes. By the 1950s, diffusion researchers had begun to apply the collective knowledge learned about naturalistic diffusion in tests of process interventions to affect the spread of innovations. Now, this purposive objective has given form to a science of dissemination in which evidence-based practices are designed a priori not just to result in internal validity but to increase the likelihood that external validity and diffusion both are more likely to result. Here, I review diffusion theory and focus on seven concepts-intervention attributes, intervention clusters, demonstration projects, societal sectors, reinforcing contextual conditions, opinion leadership, and intervention adaptation-with potential for accelerating the spread of evidence-based practices, programs, and policies in the field of social work.