The housing first technical assistance and training (HFTAT) implementation strategy: Outcomes from a mixed methods study of three programs

Dennis P. Watson, Emily Q. Ahonen, Valery Shuman, Molly Brown, Sam Tsemberis, Philip Huynh, Fangqian Ouyang, Huiping Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Background: This paper discusses the initial testing of the Housing First Training and Technical Assistance (HFTAT) Program, a multifaceted, distance-based strategy for the implementation of the Housing First (HF) supportive housing model. HF is a complex housing intervention for serving people living with serious mental illness and a substance use disorder that requires significant individual- and structural-level changes to implement. As such, the HFTAT employs a combined training and consultation approach to target different levels of the organization. Training delivered to all organizational staff focuses on building individual knowledge and uses narrative storytelling to overcome attitudinal implementation barriers. Consultation seeks to build skills through technical assistance and fidelity audit and feedback. Method: We employed a mixed method design to understand both individual-level (e.g., satisfaction with the HFTAT, HF knowledge acquisition and retention, and HF acceptability and appropriateness) and structural-level (e.g., fidelity) outcomes. Quantitative data were collected at various time points, and qualitative data were collected at the end of HFTAT activities. Staff and administrators (n=113) from three programs across three states participated in the study. Results: Satisfaction with both training and consultation was high, and discussions demonstrated both activities were necessary. Flexibility of training modality and narrative storytelling were particular strengths, while digital badging and the community of practice were perceived as less valuable because of incompatibilities with the work context. HF knowledge was high post training and retained after 3-month follow-up. Participants reported training helped them better understand the model. Attitudes toward evidence-based interventions improved over 6months, with qualitative data supporting this but demonstrating some minor concerns related to acceptability and appropriateness. Fidelity scores for all programs improved over 9months. Conclusion: The HFTAT was a well-liked and generally useful implementation strategy. Results support prior research pointing to the value of both (a) multifaceted strategies and (b) combined training and consultation approaches. The study also provides evidence for narrative storytelling as an approach for changing attitudinal implementation barriers. The need for compatibility between specific elements of an implementation strategy and the work environment was also observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number32
JournalSubstance Abuse: Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 21 2018


  • Community of practice
  • Consultation
  • Digital badging
  • ELearning
  • Harm reduction
  • Housing first
  • Implementation
  • Implementation strategy
  • Storytelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The housing first technical assistance and training (HFTAT) implementation strategy: Outcomes from a mixed methods study of three programs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this