Research on sustaining community-based interventions is limited. This is particularly true for suicide prevention programs and in American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) settings. Aiming to inform research in this area, this paper sought to identify factors and strategies that are key to sustain suicide prevention efforts in AIAN communities.
We used a modified Nominal Group Technique with a purposeful sample of N = 35 suicide prevention research experts, program implementors and AIAN community leaders to develop a list of prioritized factors and sustainability strategies. We then compared this list with the Public Health Program Capacity for Sustainability Framework (PHPCSF) to examine the extent the factors identified aligned with the existing literature.
Major factors identified included cultural fit of intervention approaches, buy in from local communities, importance of leadership and policy making, and demonstrated program success. Strategies to promote these factors included partnership building, continuous growth of leadership, policy development, and ongoing strategic planning and advocacy. All domains of the PHPCF were representative, but additional factors and strategies were identified that emerged as important in AIAN settings.
Sustaining effective and culturally informed suicide prevention efforts is of paramount importance to prevent suicide and save lives. Future research will focus on generating empirical evidence of these strategies and their effectiveness at promoting program sustainability in AIAN communities.