BACKGROUND: Mental health problems are increasing among children and adolescents worldwide, and parental support programmes have been suggested as one preventive intervention. However, the actual impact and low rates of adoption and sustainability of prevention programmes have proven to be a concern, and thus, further studies on their implementation are needed.
AIM: This study focused on the initial implementation of the International Child Development Programme (ICDP) in primary care. The aim was to investigate the involved actors' views on factors likely to affect implementation and the strategies used to manage them.
DESIGN: A case study design with a mixed-methods approach combining quantitative and qualitative data from questionnaires and interviews was used.
METHODS: Eighty-two professionals at different positions in the involved organisations participated. Directed content analysis was used for analyses, focusing on perceived levels of importance and the manifestation of implementation factors.
FINDINGS: Interviews and questionnaires provided descriptions of factors influencing the initial ICDP implementation. Uncertainty on how to manage important factors and vague change strategies was reported. Discrepancies in the perceived levels of importance versus manifestation were found regarding several factors, including hands-on support, time and resources, communication and information, a comprehensive plan of action, follow-ups, and external and internal collaborations. Manifested factors were a need for change, motivation and the ICDP's compatibility with existing norms, values and practices.
CONCLUSIONS: Implementing a parental support programme in a complex setting will benefit from being preceded by a thorough examination of the intervention and the target context and the development of clear implementation strategies based on the results of that examination. This study provides insights into how and by whom knowledge on implementation is applied during the launch of a health promotion programme, and these insights might help increase the rate of adoption and the use of such programmes and thereby increase their effectiveness.