How Program Users Enhance Fidelity: Implementing the WITS Programs in Rural Canadian Elementary Schools

Bonnie Leadbeater, Kara Thompson, Paweena Sukhawathanakul, Gabriel J. Merrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Research on the processes that enhance implementation fidelity is needed to increase understanding of ways to advance the uptake and sustainability of evidence-based programs (Berkel et al. in Prevention Science, 12, 23–33, 2011; Berkel et al. 2017). We propose and test a theoretical model of interrelations among implementation fidelity (i.e., adherence to program components), and rarely investigated activities of program users that may enhance fidelity; namely integration of program strategies into daily activities and children’s use of program strategies (CUoPS). These were assessed across the initial 2 years of the implementation of the WITS peer victimization prevention programs in 16 Canadian rural schools. WITS stands for Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out, and Seek help. All schools were implementing the program. We examined the interrelations among these implementation indicators and their effects on child outcomes targeted by the WITS Programs (i.e., social responsibility, prosocial leadership, peer victimization, emotional symptoms, and aggression). Four implementation assessments were collected from children (n = 1326), their parents, and teachers in the fall and spring of two academic years. The within-time correlations among fidelity, integration, and CUoPS were significant at each assessment. Cross-lagged models showed fidelity and integration, and CUoPS and integration were reciprocally related during each academic year. CUoPS predicted higher subsequent levels of fidelity during and across academic years. Suggestions are given for training and coaching to enhance teachers’ integration of program strategies into daily life and for creating opportunities for school staff to observe children using program strategies in order to enhance implementation fidelity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1066-1078
Number of pages13
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Fidelity
  • Implementation
  • Implementation outcomes
  • WITS Programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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