The public health benefits of injury prevention programmes are maximised when programmes are widely adopted and adhered to. Therefore, these programmes require appropriate implementation support. This study evaluated implementation activity outcomes associated with the implementation of FootyFirst, an exercise training injury prevention programme for community Australian football, both with (FootyFirst+S) and without (FootyFirst+NS) implementation support.
An evaluation plan based on the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation Maintenance (RE-AIM) Sports Setting Matrix was applied in a controlled ecological evaluation of the implementation of FootyFirst. RE-AIM dimension-specific (range: 0–2) and total RE-AIM scores (range: 0–10) were derived by triangulating data from a number of sources (including surveys, interviews, direct observations and notes) describing FootyFirst implementation activities. The mean dimension-specific and total scores were compared for clubs in regions receiving FootyFirst+S and FootyFirst+NS, through analysis of variance.
The mean total RE-AIM score forclubs in the FootyFirst+S regions was 2.4 times higher than for clubs in the FootyFirst+NS region (4.73 vs 1.94; 95% CI for the difference: 1.64 to 3.74). Similarly, all dimension-specific scores were significantly higher for clubs in the FootyFirst+S regions compared with clubs in the FootyFirst+NS region. In all regions, the dimension-specific scores were highest for reach and adoption, and lowest for implementation.
Implementing exercise training injury prevention programmes in community sport is challenging. Delivering programme content supported by a context-specific and evidence-informed implementation plan leads to greater implementation activity, which is an important precursor to injury reductions.