Measuring sustainability of a grassroots program in a large integrated health care delivery system: the Warrior to Soul Mate Program.


Introduction:Veterans experience many physical and psychosocial adjustment problems that challenge personal relationships and social functioning and successful social reintegration. The Warrior to Soul Mate (W2SM) program uses a structured curriculum [i.e., the Practical Application of Intimate Relationships Skills (PAIRS)] to address veterans' interpersonal needs by teaching participants effective interpersonal skills. Veterans who attended the W2SM program reported lower anxiety levels, improvements in marital alterations and satisfaction, and increased intimacy, cohesion, and affection. Therefore, sustaining the W2SM program can have long-term positive effects for veterans, families, and the greater society. The purpose of this paper is to describe the sustainability of the W2SM program. Methods:The Model of Community-based Program Sustainability conceptually guided the evaluation. Twenty-three VA hospitals in the U.S. that offer W2SM programs completed a self-report survey to measure sustainability. Results:The highest scoring sustainability elements were "Demonstrating program results" (M=5.82, SD=1.23), "Staff involvement and integration" (M= 5.79, SD= 1.34), and "Program responsivity" (M=4.39, SD= 1.16); the lowest scoring element was "Strategic funding" (M=2.78, SD=1.75). Statistically significant associations were found between the global middle-range program results and three sustainability elements: leadership competence (r = .472, p = .023), effective collaboration (r = .470, p = .024), and strategic funding (r = .507, p = .014). Discussion:Efforts to sustain programs should focus on leaders planning for sustainability at the onset of program implementation, collaborators must be involved in program design, implementation and evaluation, and long-term funding sources must be secured to support program operations and continuation.





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Publication Info

Stolldorf, Deonni P, Alice G Fortune-Britt, Jason A Nieuwsma, Jennifer M Gierisch, Santanu K Datta, Clyde Angel, Dick D Millspaugh, George L Jackson, et al. (2018). Measuring sustainability of a grassroots program in a large integrated health care delivery system: the Warrior to Soul Mate Program. Journal of military, veteran and family health, 4(2). pp. 81–90. 10.3138/jmvfh.2017-0007 Retrieved from

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Jason A Nieuwsma

Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Nieuwsma is a clinical psychologist whose interests are broadly related to different aspects of integrative mental health care. He has conducted work in the areas of health psychology, primary care-mental health integration, cross-cultural psychology, implementation science, and extensive work focused on integration of spirituality and health. In addition to being an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke, Dr. Nieuwsma has served for over a decade as Associate Director for Integrative Mental Health (formerly Mental Health and Chaplaincy) in the Veterans Health Administration. He has helped lead multiple projects aimed at more effectively integrating chaplaincy and mental health care services across large healthcare systems, as well as conducting extensive work and training on moral injury, health psychology, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Dr. Nieuwsma has authored over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles & book chapters; he serves on the editorial board for the APA journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice; he is Associate Editor for the Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy; and he is a co-editor and author on the books ACT for Clergy and Pastoral Counselors and Addressing Moral Injury in Clinical Practice.


Jennifer M. Gierisch

Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences

Jennifer Gierisch, PhD,  is behavioral scientist and health services researcher. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Population Heath Sciences and the Department of Medicine at Duke University. She is a core investigator with the Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT)  where she serves as the leader of the Partnered Research Methods Core (PRESTO)  and Director of the VA OAA Health Services Research Postdoctoral Fellowship. Dr. Gierisch also is the Co-Director of the Evidence Synthesis Program (VA ESP) at the Durham Veteran Affairs Health Care System. She also served as a faculty director of the Duke Clinical Translational Science Institute's  Community Engaged Research Initiative (CeRi) for five years

Dr. Gierisch’s research focuses on three overarching areas: 1) behavioral research on the psychosocial factors that influence appropriate uptake and maintenance of complex health behaviors (eg., weight management, smoking cessation, cancer screening); 2) evidence synthesis on key health and healthcare topics to enhance uptake of evidence-based interventions to improve patient and health system outcomes; and 3) participatory and  community engaged research approaches.

Area of expertise: health behavior, community-engaged research, evidence synthesis, intervention development,  qualitative research


George Lee Jackson

Adjunct Professor in Population Health Sciences

Areas of expertise: Epidemiology, Health Services Research, and Implementation Science

George L. Jackson, Ph.D., MHA is a healthcare epidemiologist and implementation scientist with a background in health administration.  He joined the faculty of the UT Southwestern Medical Center in February of 2023 as a Professor and Director of the Advancing Implementation & Improvement Science Program in the Peter O'Donnell Jr. School of Public Health.  Dr. Jackson is also a Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) Research Health Scientist who works with the VA healthcare systems in both Durham, NC and Dallas, TX.  He is the Director of the Implementation and Improvement Science Lab/Core at the Durham VA Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT).  Additionally, he is a co-leader of a cooperative effort between the Dallas VA and Program on Implementation and Improvement Science designed to enhance the infrastructure for partnered health services and other research across the Dallas VA and UT Southwestern focused on enhancing the health and healthcare of Veterans in North Texas and across the Nation.

The UT Southwestern Advancing Implementation & Improvement Science Program seeks to further enhance collaborations between the UT Southwestern and affiliated health systems and community partners in the pursuit of common missions to enhance the health and healthcare of the people of North Texas.  The goal is to develop a system to identify potentially successful projects using implementation and improvement science – which uses rigorous, data-driven research to expand programs and improve a community’s health.

Dr. Jackson’s own research and evaluation efforts focus on the development, testing, and implementation of team-based approaches to address the treatment and prevention of chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer.  He has also evaluated efforts to enhance the organization of mental health care.  As an implementation scientist, Dr. Jackson studies strategies focused on the adoption and spread of evidence-informed practices across large health systems.  He is currently the corresponding principal investigator for two VA program grants focused on the process of identifying, replicating, and spreading innovations across large healthcare systems.  These include the Spreading Healthcare Access, Activities, Research and Knowledge (SHAARK) partnered evaluation of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Diffusion of Excellence program and the Dynamic Diffusion Network (DDN) QUERI Program, both funded by the VA Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI).

Dr. Jackson received his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in epidemiology, Master of Health Administration (MHA), and Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) in health policy and administration degrees from the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He completed an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) pre-doctoral fellowship in health services research at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and AHRQ post-doctoral fellowship in health services research in the Duke Division of General Internal Medicine and HSR&D Center at the Durham VA.  He came to UT Southwestern from Duke University, where he was a Professor in the Departments of Population Health Sciences, Medicine (Division of General Internal Medicine), and Family Medicine & Community Health.  He also co-taught evidence-based practice in the Duke Physician Assistant (PA) Program.  Dr. Jackson currently maintains appointments as an Adjunct Professor of Population Health Sciences at Duke and Adjunct Professor of Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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