Sustainability occurs when a program or practice continues to be delivered as intended — possibly with some level of dynamic adaptation — and continues to result in improved outcomes for both the individuals who receive the program or practice and the systems affected by the program or practice. Ongoing sustainability planning and improvement can promote the integration of the program or practice in organizational and staff routines and habits and also help to identify or anticipate potential implementation barriers. Sustainability is focused on “hard wiring” or institutionalizing the processes associated with the program or practice; it requires addressing both technical and adaptive aspects of implementation.
Read more about best practices for planning for sustainable implementation.
What Tools or Resources Are Available to Use Data to Improve Implementation?
Implementation Support Practitioners can use the following resource to assess and plan for sustainability throughout the implementation process.
- Implementation Sustainability Planning Tool: This planning tool can be used with the implementing organization to discuss the four broad areas related to sustainability planning, described above.
- Sustainment Measurement System Scale: This validated tool can be used with an organization to assess elements and outcomes of efforts to sustain the program or practice at the implementing organization. The 35-item measure assesses funding and financial support; responsiveness to community needs, responsiveness to community values; coalitions, partnership and networks; infrastructure and capacity to support sustainability; implementation leadership; and evaluation, feedback and evidence of positive outcomes.
 Palinkas, L. A., Chou, C., Spear, S. E, Mendon, S. J., Villamar, J., & Brown, C. H. (2020). Measurement of sustainment of prevention programs and initiatives: The sustainment measurement system scale. Implementation Science, 15(1). doi: 10.1186/s13012-020-01030-x