A peek behind the curtain: exploring coaching styles within the implementation and sustainment facilitation (ISF) strategy in the substance abuse treatment to HIV care study

December 20, 2021



The Grasha-Riechmann teaching styles, which includes three didactic and two prescriptive styles, have been shown to help enhance learning within educational settings. Although an adaption of the Grasha-Riechmann style classification has enabled coaching styles to be identified for use as part of quality improvement (QI) initiatives, research has not examined the styles actually utilized by coaches within a QI initiative or how the styles change overtime when the coach is guiding an organization through change implementation. Interactions between coaches and HIV service organization (HSO) staff participating in a large implementation research experiment called the Substance Abuse Treatment to HIV care (SAT2HIV) Project were evaluated to begin building an evidence base to address this gap in implementation research.


Implementation & Sustainment Facilitation (ISF) Strategy meetings (n = 137) between coaches and HSO staff were recorded and professionally transcribed. Thematic coding classifications were developed from the Grasha-Riechmann framework and applied to a purposively selected sample of transcripts (n = 66). Four coders independently coded transcripts using NVivo to facilitate text identification, organization, and retrieval for analysis. Coaching style use and changes across the three ISF phases were explored.


Facilitator and formal authority were the two coaching styles predominately used. Facilitator sub-themes shifted from asking questions and providing support to supporting independent action over time. Coaches’ use of formal authority sub-styles shifted notably across time from setting expectations or ensuring preparation to offering affirmation or feedback about changes that the HSO’s were implementing. The use of the delegator or personal model coaching styles occurred infrequently.


The current research extends implementation research’s understanding of coaching. More specifically, findings indicate it is feasible to use the Grasha-Riechmann framework to qualitatively identify coaching styles utilized in a facilitation-based implementation strategy. More importantly, results provide insights into how different coaching styles were utilized to implement an evidence-based practice. Further research is needed to examine how coaching styles differ by organization, impact implementation fidelity, and influence both implementation outcomes and client outcomes.

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