There is a profound need for evidence-based interventions that promote tobacco control on a large scale, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. In India in 2010 alone, tobacco use accounted for over 1 million deaths. The overall goal of this study is to identify effective strategies for broad-based implementation of evidence-based tobacco control interventions that can be embedded in existing organizational infrastructures and accommodate the realities of low-resource settings. This study builds on an intervention for school teachers, called the Tobacco-Free Teachers/Tobacco-Free Society (TFT-TFS) program, shown to be efficacious in increasing tobacco use cessation and tobacco policy implementation in a cluster randomized controlled trial in the Bihar School Teachers' Study (BSTS). Teachers in India are an important channel for promoting tobacco control, given their roles as community leaders and role models. The next logical step in this research, which is our objective here, to develop the knowledge, products and processes needed to take this intervention to scale and disseminate it through readily accessible and sustainable channels. We will test an implementation model for building capacity within education departments to support and deliver this program within schools, using the existing infrastructure for curriculum training in state education departments. Within each state in India, schools are organized within clusters, and cluster coordinators are responsible for directly training principals about curriculum issues. We will build the capacity of cluster coordinators to train and support principals to implement the TFT-TFS program in their schools. Our central research question is: Will this evidence-based intervention be successfully adopted, implemented and sustained through existing channels using this implementation process? Accordingly, our specific aims are to: (1) determine the extent to which this implementation model meets acceptable rates of program adoption, implementation, reach and maintenance of the TFT-TFS program among schools in the Indian state of Bihar; (2) determine program effectiveness in increasing tobacco use cessation and implementation of tobacco control policies in schools; (3) determine the feasibility of building the capacity of cluster coordinators to train and support principals in program implementation and maintenance in schools, and for the Department of Education to sustain the program; and (4) determine the direct financial costs of program implementation and maintenance. This study uses a non- inferiority design to test the primary hypothesis that program adoption, implementation, and reach will not be inferior to the high standards demonstrated in BSTS; and assesses program effectiveness in improving tobacco use cessation and increasing policy implementation using a cluster randomized design. This research is innovative because it systematically examines the process of scaling up one of the first evidence-based approaches to tobacco use cessation among adults in India. This study is significant because it is expect to improve understanding of implementation processes needed for taking evidence-based interventions to scale.
The proposed research is relevant to public health because it is expected to result in the identification of effective strategies to take evidence-based tobacco control interventions to scale. This research is expected to result in a replicable implementation model that can increase tobacco use cessation among school teachers in India, and potentially more broadly in other low and middle-income countries, and in low-resource settings in the U.S.