Clinical guidelines recommend that assessment and management of patients with stroke commences early including in emergency departments (ED). To inform the development of an implementation intervention targeted in ED, we conducted a systematic review of qualitative and quantitative studies to identify relevant barriers and enablers to six key clinical behaviours in acute stroke care: appropriate triage, thrombolysis administration, monitoring and management of temperature, blood glucose levels, and of swallowing difficulties and transfer of stroke patients in ED.
Studies of any design, conducted in ED, where barriers or enablers based on primary data were identified for one or more of these six clinical behaviours. Major biomedical databases (CINAHL, OVID SP EMBASE, OVID SP MEDLINE) were searched using comprehensive search strategies. The barriers and enablers were categorised using the theoretical domains framework (TDF). The behaviour change technique (BCT) that best aligned to the strategy each enabler represented was selected for each of the reported enablers using a standard taxonomy.
Five qualitative studies and four surveys out of the 44 studies identified met the selection criteria. The majority of barriers reported corresponded with the TDF domains of “environmental, context and resources” (such as stressful working conditions or lack of resources) and “knowledge” (such as lack of guideline awareness or familiarity). The majority of enablers corresponded with the domains of “knowledge” (such as education for physicians on the calculated risk of haemorrhage following intravenous thrombolysis [tPA]) and “skills” (such as providing opportunity to treat stroke cases of varying complexity). The total number of BCTs assigned was 18. The BCTs most frequently assigned to the reported enablers were “focus on past success” and “information about health consequences.”
Barriers and enablers for the delivery of key evidence-based protocols in an emergency setting have been identified and interpreted within a relevant theoretical framework. This new knowledge has since been used to select specific BCTs to implement evidence-based care in an ED setting. It is recommended that findings from similar future reviews adopt a similar theoretical approach. In particular, the use of existing matrices to assist the selection of relevant BCTs.
Implementation; Barriers; Enablers; Theoretical domains framework; Acute stroke; Emergency department
Internationally recognised evidence-based guidelines recommend appropriate triage of patients with stroke in emergency departments (EDs), administration of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), and proactive management of fever, hyperglycaemia and swallowing before prompt transfer to a stroke unit to maximise outcomes. We aim to evaluate the effectiveness in EDs of a theory-informed, nurse-initiated, intervention to improve multidisciplinary triage, treatment and transfer (T3) of patients with acute stroke to improve 90-day death and dependency. Organisational and contextual factors associated with intervention uptake also will be evaluated.
This prospective, multicentre, parallel group, cluster randomised trial with blinded outcome assessment will be conducted in EDs of hospitals with stroke units in three Australian states and one territory. EDs will be randomised 1:1 within strata defined by state and tPA volume to receive either the T3 intervention or no additional support (control EDs). Our T3 intervention comprises an evidence-based care bundle targeting: (1) triage: routine assignment of patients with suspected stroke to Australian Triage Scale category 1 or 2; (2) treatment: screening for tPA eligibility and administration of tPA where applicable; instigation of protocols for management of fever, hyperglycaemia and swallowing; and (3) transfer: prompt admission to the stroke unit. We will use implementation science behaviour change methods informed by the Theoretical Domains Framework [1, 2] consisting of (i) workshops to determine barriers and local solutions; (ii) mixed interactive and didactic education; (iii) local clinical opinion leaders; and (iv) reminders in the form of email, telephone and site visits. Our primary outcome measure is 90 days post-admission death or dependency (modified Rankin Scale >2). Secondary outcomes are health status (SF-36), functional dependency (Barthel Index), quality of life (EQ-5D); and quality of care outcomes, namely, monitoring and management practices for thrombolysis, fever, hyperglycaemia, swallowing and prompt transfer. Outcomes will be assessed at the patient level. A separate process evaluation will examine contextual factors to successful intervention uptake. At the time of publication, EDs have been randomised and the intervention is being implemented.
This theoretically informed intervention is aimed at addressing important gaps in care to maximise 90-day health outcomes for patients with stroke.
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12614000939695. Registered 2 September 2014.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-016-0503-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Cluster randomised trial; Stroke; Nurse-led; Fever; Hyperglycaemia; Dysphagia; Thrombolysis; Theoretical domains framework; Implementation science; Care bundle
Networks of clinical experts are increasingly being implemented as a strategy to improve health care processes and outcomes and achieve change in the health system. Few are ever formally evaluated and, when this is done, not all networks are equally successful in their efforts. There is a need to formatively assess the strategic and operational management and leadership of networks to identify where functioning could be improved to maximise impact. This paper outlines the development and psychometric evaluation of an Internet survey to measure features of clinical networks and provides descriptive results from a sample of members of 19 diverse clinical networks responsible for evidence-based quality improvement across a large geographical region.
Instrument development was based on: a review of published and grey literature; a qualitative study of clinical network members; a program logic framework; and consultation with stakeholders. The resulting domain structure was validated for a sample of 592 clinical network members using confirmatory factor analysis. Scale reliability was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha. A summary score was calculated for each domain and aggregate level means and ranges are reported.
The instrument was shown to have good construct validity across seven domains as demonstrated by a high level of internal consistency, and all Cronbach’s α coefficients were equal to or above 0.75. In the survey sample of network members there was strong reported commitment and belief in network-led quality improvement initiatives, which were perceived to have improved quality of care (72.8 %) and patient outcomes (63.2 %). Network managers were perceived to be effective leaders and clinical co-chairs were perceived as champions for change. Perceived external support had the lowest summary score across the seven domains.
This survey, which has good construct validity and internal reliability, provides a valid instrument to use in future research related to clinical networks. The survey will be of use to health service managers to identify strengths and areas where networks can be improved to increase effectiveness and impact on quality of care and patient outcomes. Equally, the survey could be adapted for use in the assessment of other types of networks.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-016-1800-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Clinical networks; Survey; Reliability; Validity; Leadership; Engagement; Strategic management; External support; Organisational change
To embed an evidence-based intervention to manage FEver, hyperglycaemia (Sugar) and Swallowing (the FeSS protocols) in stroke, previously demonstrated in the Quality in Acute Stroke Care (QASC) trial to decrease 90-day death and dependency, into all stroke services in New South Wales (NSW), Australia's most populous state.
Pre-test/post-test prospective study.
36 NSW stroke services.
Our clinical translational initiative, the QASC Implementation Project (QASCIP), targeted stroke services to embed 3 nurse-led clinical protocols (the FeSS protocols) into routine practice. Clinical champions attended a 1-day multidisciplinary training workshop and received standardised educational resources and ongoing support. Using the National Stroke Foundation audit collection tool and processes, patient data from retrospective medical record self-reported audits for 40 consecutive patients with stroke per site pre-QASCIP (1 July 2012 to 31 December 2012) were compared with prospective self-reported data from 40 consecutive patients with stroke per site post-QASCIP (1 November 2013 to 28 February 2014). Inter-rater reliability was substantial for 10 of 12 variables.
Primary outcome measures
Proportion of patients receiving care according to the FeSS protocols pre-QASCIP to post-QASCIP.
All 36 (100%) NSW stroke services participated, nominating 100 site champions who attended our educational workshops. The time from start of intervention to completion of post-QASCIP data collection was 8 months. All (n=36, 100%) sites provided medical record audit data for 2144 patients (n=1062 pre-QASCIP; n=1082 post-QASCIP). Pre-QASCIP to post-QASCIP, proportions of patients receiving the 3 targeted clinical behaviours increased significantly: management of fever (pre: 69%; post: 78%; p=0.003), hyperglycaemia (pre: 23%; post: 34%; p=0.0085) and swallowing (pre: 42%; post: 51%; p=0.033).
We obtained unprecedented statewide scale-up and spread to all NSW stroke services of a nurse-led intervention previously proven to improve long-term patient outcomes. As clinical leaders search for strategies to improve quality of care, our initiative is replicable and feasible in other acute care settings.
Nursing care; bundle; implementation
Patients’ knowledge of their atrial fibrillation (AF) and anticoagulation therapy are determinants of the efficacy of thromboprophylaxis. Nurses may be well placed to provide counselling and education to patients on all aspects of anticoagulation, including self-management. It is important that nurses are well informed to provide optimal education to patients. Current practice and knowledge of cardiovascular nurses on AF and anticoagulation in the Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) context is not well reported.
This study aimed to; 1) Explore the nurse’s role in clinical decision making in anticoagulation in the setting of AF; 2) Describe perceived barriers and enablers to anticoagulation in AF; 3) Investigate practice patterns in the management of anticoagulation in the ANZ setting; 4) Assess cardiovascular nurses’ knowledge of anticoagulation.
A paper-based survey on current practices and knowledge of AF and anticoagulation was distributed during the Australian Cardiovascular Nursing College (ACNC) Annual Scientific Meeting, February 2014. This survey was also emailed to Cardiovascular Trials Nurses throughout New South Wales, Australia and nursing members of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ).
There were 41/73 (56 %) respondents to the paper-based survey. A further 14 surveys were completed online via nurse members of the CSANZ, and via an investigator developed NSW cardiovascular trials nurse email distribution list. A total of 55 surveys were completed and included in analyses. Prior education levels on AF, stroke risk, anticoagulation and health behaviour modification were mixed. The CHA2DS2VASc and HAS-BLED risk stratification tools were reported to be underused by this group of clinicians. Reported key barriers to anticoagulation included; fears of patients falling, fears of poor adherence to medication taking and routine monitoring. Patient self-monitoring and self-management were reported as underutilised. ANZ cardiovascular nurses reported their key role to be counselling and advising patients on therapy regimens. Anticoagulant-drug interaction knowledge was generally poor.
This study identified poor knowledge and practice in the areas of AF and anticoagulation. There is scope for improvement for cardiovascular nurses in ANZ in relation to AF and anticoagulation knowledge and practice.
Clinical practice; Anticoagulant knowledge; Anticoagulation; Atrial fibrillation; Education; Survey methods; Patient education; Self-management
Clinical networks have been established to improve patient outcomes and processes of care by implementing a range of innovations and undertaking projects based on the needs of local health services. Given the significant investment in clinical networks internationally, it is important to assess their effectiveness and sustainability. This qualitative study investigated the views of stakeholders on the factors they thought were influential in terms of overall network success.
Ten participants were interviewed using face-to-face, audio-recorded semi-structured interviews about critical factors for networks’ successes over the study period 2006–2008. Respondents were purposively selected from two stakeholder groups: i) chairs of networks during the study period of 2006–2008 from high- moderate- and low-impact networks (as previously determined by an independent review panel) and ii) experts in the clinical field of the network who had a connection to the network but who were not network members. Participants were blind to the performance of the network they were interviewed about. Transcribed data were coded and analysed to generate themes relating to the study aims.
Themes relating to influential factors critical to network success were: network model principles; leadership; formal organisational structures and processes; nature of network projects; external relationships; profile and credibility of the network.
This study provides clinical networks with guidance on essential factors for maximising optimal network outcomes and that may assist networks to move from being a ’low-impact’ to ‘high-impact’ network. Important ingredients for successful clinical networks were visionary and strategic leadership with strong links to external stakeholders; and having formal infrastructure and processes to enable the development and management of work plans aligned with health priorities.
Clinical networks; Outcomes; Stakeholder views; Qualitative
Community participation is often restricted after stroke, due to reduced confidence and outdoor mobility. Australian clinical guidelines recommend that specific evidence-based interventions be delivered to target these restrictions, such as multiple escorted outdoor journeys. The aim of this study was to describe post-inpatient outdoor mobility and transport training delivered to stroke survivors in New South Wales, Australia and whether therapy differed according to type, sector or location of service provider.
Using an observational retrospective cohort study design, 24 rehabilitation service providers were audited. Provider types included outpatient (n = 8), day therapy (n = 9), home-based rehabilitation (n = 5) and transitional aged care services (TAC, n = 2). Records of 15 stroke survivors who had received post-hospital rehabilitation were audited per service, for wait time, duration, amount of therapy and outdoor-related therapy.
A total of 311 records were audited. Median wait time for post-hospital therapy was 13 days (IQR, 5–35). Median duration of therapy was 68 days (IQR, 35–109), consisting of 11 sessions (IQR 4–19). Overall, a median of one session (IQR 0–3) was conducted outdoors per person. Outdoor-related therapy was similar across service providers, except that TAC delivered an average of 5.4 more outdoor-related sessions (95 % CI 4.4 to 6.4), and 3.5 more outings into public streets (95 % CI 2.8 to 4.3) per person, compared to outpatient services.
The majority of service providers in the sample delivered little evidence-based outdoor mobility and travel training per stroke participant, as recommended in national stroke guidelines.
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611000554965.
Physical therapy; Occupational therapy; Physiotherapy; Knowledge translation; Walking
Positioning a patient lying-flat in the acute phase of ischaemic stroke may improve recovery and reduce disability, but such a possibility has not been formally tested in a randomised trial. We therefore initiated the Head Position in Stroke Trial (HeadPoST) to determine the effects of lying-flat (0°) compared with sitting-up (≥30°) head positioning in the first 24 hours of hospital admission for patients with acute stroke.
We plan to conduct an international, cluster randomised, crossover, open, blinded outcome-assessed clinical trial involving 140 study hospitals (clusters) with established acute stroke care programs. Each hospital will be randomly assigned to sequential policies of lying-flat (0°) or sitting-up (≥30°) head position as a ‘business as usual’ stroke care policy during the first 24 hours of admittance. Each hospital is required to recruit 60 consecutive patients with acute ischaemic stroke (AIS), and all patients with acute intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) (an estimated average of 10), in the first randomised head position policy before crossing over to the second head position policy with a similar recruitment target. After collection of in-hospital clinical and management data and 7-day outcomes, central trained blinded assessors will conduct a telephone disability assessment with the modified Rankin Scale at 90 days. The primary outcome for analysis is a shift (defined as improvement) in death or disability on this scale. For a cluster size of 60 patients with AIS per intervention and with various assumptions including an intracluster correlation coefficient of 0.03, a sample size of 16,800 patients at 140 centres will provide 90 % power (α 0.05) to detect at least a 16 % relative improvement (shift) in an ordinal logistic regression analysis of the primary outcome. The treatment effect will also be assessed in all patients with ICH who are recruited during each treatment study period.
HeadPoST is a large international clinical trial in which we will rigorously evaluate the effects of different head positioning in patients with acute stroke.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02162017 (date of registration: 27 April 2014); ANZCTR identifier: ACTRN12614000483651 (date of registration: 9 May 2014). Protocol version and date: version 2.2, 19 June 2014.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-015-0767-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Cluster clinical trial; Head position; Ischemic stroke; Management; Nursing care; Outcomes; Stroke
Bowel management protocols have the potential to minimize complications for critically ill patients. Targeted implementation can increase the uptake of protocols by clinicians into practice. The theory of planned behaviour offers a framework in which to investigate clinicians’ intention to perform the behaviour of interest. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of implementing a bowel management protocol on intensive care nursing and medical staffs’ knowledge, attitude, subjective norms, perceived behavioural control, behaviour intentions, role perceptions and past behaviours in relation to three bowel management practices.
A descriptive before and after survey using a self-administered questionnaire sent to nursing and medical staff working within three intensive care units before and after implementation of our bowel management protocol (pre: May – June 2008; post: Feb – May 2009).
Participants had significantly higher knowledge scores post-implementation of our protocol (pre mean score 17.6; post mean score 19.3; p = 0.004). Post-implementation there was a significant increase in: self-reported past behaviour (pre mean score 5.38; post mean score 7.11; p = 0.002) and subjective norms scores (pre mean score 3.62; post mean score 4.18; p = 0.016) for bowel assessment; and behaviour intention (pre mean score 5.22; post mean score 5.65; p = 0.048) for administration of enema.
This evaluation, informed by the theory of planned behaviour, has provided useful insights into factors that influence clinician intentions to perform evidence-based bowel management practices in intensive care. Addressing factors such as knowledge, attitudes and beliefs can assist in targeting implementation strategies to positively affect clinician behaviour change. Despite an increase in clinicians’ knowledge scores, our implementation strategy did not, however, significantly change clinician behaviour intentions for all three bowel management practices. Further research is required to explore the influence of opinion leaders and organizational culture on clinicians’ behaviour intentions related to bowel management for intensive care patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12912-015-0056-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Bowel management; Intensive care; Nursing; Theory of planned behaviour; Questionnaire
Despite universal recognition of the importance of hand hygiene in reducing the incidence of healthcare associated infections, health care workers’ compliance with best practice has been sub-optimal. Senior hospital managers have responsibilities for implementing patient safety initiatives and are therefore ideally placed to provide suggestions for improving strategies to increase hand hygiene compliance. This is an under-researched area, accordingly the aim of this study was to identify senior hospital managers’ views on current and innovative strategies to improve hand hygiene compliance.
Qualitative design comprising face-to-face interviews with thirteen purposively sampled senior managers at a major teaching and referral hospital in Sydney, Australia. Data were analysed thematically.
Seven themes emerged: culture change starts with leaders, refresh and renew the message, connect the five moments to the whole patient journey, actionable audit results, empower patients, reconceptualising non-compliance and start using the hammer.
To strengthen hand hygiene programmes, strategies based on the five moments of hand hygiene should be tailored to specific roles and settings and take into account the whole patient journey including patient interactions with clinical and non-clinical staff. Senior clinical and non-clinical leaders should visibly champion and mandate best practice initiatives and articulate that hand hygiene non-compliance is culturally and professionally unacceptable to the organization. Strategies that included a disciplinary component and which conceptualise hand hygiene non-compliance as a patient safety error may be worth evaluating in terms of staff acceptability and effectiveness.
Hand hygiene; Qualitative interviews; Compliance; Hospital managers; Patient safety; Innovative strategies
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability internationally. One of the three effective interventions in the acute phase of stroke care is thrombolytic therapy with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), if given within 4.5 hours of onset to appropriate cases of ischaemic stroke.
To test the effectiveness of a multi-component multidisciplinary collaborative approach compared to usual care as a strategy for increasing thrombolysis rates for all stroke patients at intervention hospitals, while maintaining accepted benchmarks for low rates of intracranial haemorrhage and high rates of functional outcomes for both groups at three months.
Methods and design
A cluster randomised controlled trial of 20 hospitals across 3 Australian states with 2 groups: multi- component multidisciplinary collaborative intervention as the experimental group and usual care as the control group. The intervention is based on behavioural theory and analysis of the steps, roles and barriers relating to rapid assessment for thrombolysis eligibility; it involves a comprehensive range of strategies addressing individual-level and system-level change at each site. The primary outcome is the difference in tPA rates between the two groups post-intervention. The secondary outcome is the proportion of tPA treated patients in both groups with good functional outcomes (modified Rankin Score (mRS <2) and the proportion with intracranial haemorrhage (mRS ≥2), compared to international benchmarks.
TIPS will trial a comprehensive, multi-component and multidisciplinary collaborative approach to improving thrombolysis rates at multiple sites. The trial has the potential to identify methods for optimal care which can be implemented for stroke patients during the acute phase. Study findings will include barriers and solutions to effective thrombolysis implementation and trial outcomes will be published whether significant or not.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12613000939796
Collaborative intervention; Thrombolysis; Acute stroke; Evidence-based practice; Quality improvement; Cluster randomised controlled trial; Multidisciplinary approach
Despite the availability of evidence-based guidelines on venous thromboembolism (VTE) prevention clinical audit and research reveals that hospitalised medical patients frequently receive suboptimal prophylaxis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the acceptability, utility and clinical impact of an educational outreach visit (EOV) on the provision of VTE prophylaxis to hospitalised medical patients in a 270 bed acute care private hospital in metropolitan Australia.
The study used an uncontrolled before-and-after design with accompanying process evaluation. The acceptability of the intervention to participants was measured with a post intervention survey; descriptive data on resource use was collected as a measure of utility; and clinical impact (prophylaxis rate) was assessed by pre and post intervention clinical audits. Doctors who admit >40 medical patients each year were targeted to receive the intervention which consisted of a one-to-one educational visit on VTE prevention from a trained peer facilitator. The EOV protocol was designed by a multidisciplinary group of healthcare professionals using social marketing theory.
Nineteen (73%) of 26 eligible participants received an EOV. The majority (n = 16, 85%) felt the EOV was effective or extremely effective at increasing their knowledge about VTE prophylaxis and 15 (78%) gave a verbal commitment to provide evidence-based prophylaxis. The average length of each visit was 15 minutes (IQ range 15 to 20) and the average time spent arranging and conducting each visit was 92 minutes (IQ range 78 to 129). There was a significant improvement in the proportion of medical patients receiving appropriate pharmacological VTE prophylaxis following the intervention (54% to 70%, 16% improvement, 95% CI 5 to 26, p = 0.004).
EOV is effective at improving doctors’ provision of pharmacological VTE prophylaxis to hospitalised medical patients. It was also found to be an acceptable implementation strategy by the majority of participants; however, it was resource intensive requiring on average 92 minutes per visit.
Educational outreach visit; Implementation science; Venous thromboembolism prevention
Atrial fibrillation is a common arrhythmia in heart failure and a risk factor for stroke. Risk assessment tools can assist clinicians with decision making in the allocation of thromboprophylaxis. This review provides an overview of current validated risk assessment tools for atrial fibrillation and emphasizes the importance of tailoring individual risk and the importance of weighing the benefits of treatment. Further, this review provides details of innovative and patient-centered methods for ensuring optimal adherence to prescribed therapy. Prior to initiating oral anticoagulant therapy, a comprehensive risk assessment should include evaluation of associated cardiogeriatric conditions, potential for adherence to prescribed therapy, frailty, and functional and cognitive ability.
stroke risk; heart failure; atrial fibrillation; anticoagulation; risk stratification; medication adherence
Patients are at risk of developing pressure injuries in the peri-operative setting. Studies evaluating the impact of educational interventions on peri-operative nurses’ knowledge and reported practice are scarce. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of a multifaceted intervention on peri-operative nurses’ (a) knowledge of pressure injury risks, risk assessment and prevention strategies for patients in the operating suite; and (b) reported practice relating to risk assessment practices and implementation of prevention strategies for patients in the operating suite.
A before-after research design was used. A convenience sample of all registered and enrolled nurses employed in two hospitals’ operating suites was recruited. A multifaceted intervention was delivered which comprised a short presentation, educational materials and reminder posters. A 48-item survey tool was completed pre-and post-intervention to measure self-reported knowledge and practice.
70 eligible peri-operative nurses completed both surveys. Post-intervention, statistically significant improvements were seen in knowledge of correct descriptions of pressure injury stages (p=0.001); appropriate reassessment for patients with a new pressure injury (p=0.05); appropriate actions for patients with an existing stage 1 (p=0.02) and stage 2 pressure injury (p=0.04). Statistical improvements were also seen in reported practice relating to an increase in the use of a risk assessment tool in conjunction with clinical judgement (p=0.0008); verbal handover of patients’ pressure injury risk status from the operating room nurse to the recovery room (p=0.023) and from the recovery room nurse to the postoperative ward nurse (p=0.045). The number of participants reporting use of non-recommended and recommended pressure-relieving strategies was unchanged.
A multi-faceted educational intervention can improve some aspects of perioperative nurses’ knowledge and reported practice such as risk assessment practices but not others such as use of recommended pressure-relieving devices. Further research is required to ascertain effective interventions which improve all areas of practice and knowledge, particularly in the use of appropriate pressure-relieving devices in order to prevent pressure injuries in surgical patients.
Pressure injury; Peri-operative; Nurses; Educational intervention; Prevention; Risk assessment
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a leading cause of disability, hospitalization, and premature mortality. General practice is well placed to diagnose and manage COPD, but there is a significant gap between evidence and current practice, with a low level of awareness and implementation of clinical practice guidelines. Under-diagnosis of COPD is a world-wide problem, limiting the benefit that could potentially be achieved through early intervention strategies such as smoking cessation, dietary advice, and exercise. General practice is moving towards more structured chronic disease management, and the increasing involvement of practice nurses in delivering chronic care.
A pragmatic cluster randomised trial will test the hypothesis that intervention by a practice nurse-general practitioner (GP) team leads to improved health-related quality of life and greater adherence with clinical practice guidelines for patients with newly-diagnosed COPD, compared with usual care. Forty general practices in greater metropolitan Sydney Australia will be recruited to identify patients at risk of COPD and invite them to attend a case finding appointment. Practices will be randomised to deliver either practice nurse-GP partnership care, or usual care, to patients newly-diagnosed with COPD.
The active intervention will involve the practice nurse and GP working in partnership with the patient in developing and implementing a care plan involving (as appropriate), smoking cessation, immunisation, pulmonary rehabilitation, medication review, assessment and correction of inhaler technique, nutritional advice, management of psycho-social issues, patient education, and management of co-morbidities.
The primary outcome measure is health-related quality of life, assessed with the St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire 12 months after diagnosis. Secondary outcome measures include validated disease-specific and general health related quality of life measures, smoking and immunisation status, medications, inhaler technique, and lung function. Outcomes will be assessed by project officers blinded to patients’ randomization groups.
This study will use proven case-finding methods to identify patients with undiagnosed COPD in general practice, where improved care has the potential for substantial benefit in health and healthcare utilization. The study provides the capacity to trial a new model of team-based assessment and management of newly diagnosed COPD in Australian primary care.
Patients having arthroscopic shoulder surgery frequently experience periods of inadvertent hypothermia. This common perioperative problem has been linked to adverse patient outcomes such as myocardial ischaemia, surgical site infection and coagulopathy. International perioperative guidelines recommend patient warming, using a forced air warming device, and the use of warmed intraoperative irrigation solutions for the prevention of hypothermia in at-risk patient groups. This trial will investigate the effect of these interventions on patients’ temperature, thermal comfort, and total recovery time.
The trial will employ a randomised 2 x 2 factorial design. Eligible patients will be stratified by anaesthetist and block randomised into one of four groups: Group one will receive preoperative warming with a forced air warming device; group two will receive warmed intraoperative irrigation solutions; group three will receive both preoperative warming and warmed intraoperative irrigation solutions; and group four will receive neither intervention. Participants in all four groups will receive active intraoperative warming with a forced air warming device. The primary outcome measures are postoperative temperature, thermal comfort, and total recovery time. Primary outcomes will undergo a two-way analysis of variance controlling for covariants such as operating room ambient temperature and volume of intraoperative irrigation solution.
This trial is designed to confirm the effectiveness of these interventions at maintaining perioperative normothermia and to evaluate if this translates into improved patient outcomes.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number
Clinical networks are increasingly being viewed as an important strategy for increasing evidence-based practice and improving models of care, but success is variable and characteristics of networks with high impact are uncertain. This study takes advantage of the variability in the functioning and outcomes of networks supported by the Australian New South Wales (NSW) Agency for Clinical Innovation's non-mandatory model of clinical networks to investigate the factors that contribute to the success of clinical networks.
The objective of this retrospective study is to examine the association between external support, organisational and program factors, and indicators of success among 19 clinical networks over a three-year period (2006-2008). The outcomes (health impact, system impact, programs implemented, engagement, user perception, and financial leverage) and explanatory factors will be collected using a web-based survey, interviews, and record review. An independent expert panel will provide judgements about the impact or extent of each network's initiatives on health and system impacts. The ratings of the expert panel will be the outcome used in multivariable analyses. Following the rating of network success, a qualitative study will be conducted to provide a more in-depth examination of the most successful networks.
This is the first study to combine quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the factors that contribute to the success of clinical networks and, more generally, is the largest study of clinical networks undertaken. The adaptation of expert panel methods to rate the impacts of networks is the methodological innovation of this study. The proposed project will identify the conditions that should be established or encouraged by agencies developing clinical networks and will be of immediate use in forming strategies and programs to maximise the effectiveness of such networks.
Clinical networks have been established to improve health outcomes and processes of care by implementing a range of innovations and undertaking projects based on perceived local need. Limited research exists on the necessary conditions required to bring about successful network outcomes and what characterises network success from the perspective of those involved in network initiatives. This qualitative study identified stakeholder views on i) the conditions for effective clinical networks; and ii) desirable outcomes of successful clinical networks.
Twenty-seven participants were interviewed using face-to-face audio-recorded semi-structured interviews. Transcribed data were coded and analysed to generate themes relating to the study aims.
Five key factors represented as sub-themes were identified as important conditions for the establishment of successful clinical networks under the main theme of effective network structure, organisation and governance. These were: building relationships; effective leadership; strategic evidence-based workplans; adequate resources; and ability to implement and evaluate network initiatives. Two major themes encapsulated views on desirable outcomes of successful clinical networks: connecting and engaging which represented the outcomes of interdisciplinary and consumer collaboration and, partnerships with state health and local health services, and changing the landscape of care, which represented the importance of outcomes associated with improving services, care and patient health outcomes and implementing evidence-based practice.
This study provides new knowledge on the conditions needed to establish successful clinical networks and on desirable outcomes arising from network projects and initiatives that are considered to be valuable by those working in or associated with clinical networks. This provides health services with information on what needs to be in place for successful networks and on the types of outcomes that can be considered for assessing network effectiveness.
Contrary to recommendations in a national clinical guideline, baseline audits from five community-based stroke rehabilitation teams demonstrated an evidence-practice gap; only 17% of eligible people with stroke were receiving targeted rehabilitation by occupational therapists and physiotherapists to increase outdoor journeys. The primary aim of this feasibility study was to design, test, and evaluate the impact of an implementation program intended to change the behaviour of community rehabilitation teams. A secondary aim was to measure the impact of this change on client outcomes.
A before-and-after study design was used. The primary data collection method was a medical record audit. Five community rehabilitation teams and a total of 12 professionals were recruited, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and a therapy assistant. A medical record audit was conducted twice over 12 months (total of 77 records pre-intervention, 53 records post-intervention) against a guideline recommendation about delivering outdoor journey sessions to people with stroke. A behavioural intervention (the 'Out-and-About Implementation Program') was used to help change team practice. Active components of the intervention included feedback about the audit, barrier identification, and tailored education to target known barriers. The primary outcome measure was the proportion of medical records containing evidence of multiple outdoor journey sessions. Other outcomes of interest included the proportion of medical records that contained evidence of screening for outdoor journeys and driving by team members, and changes in patient outcomes. A small sample of community-dwelling people with stroke (n = 23) provided pre-post outcome data over three months. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and t-tests.
Medical record audits found that teams were delivering six or more outdoor journeys to 17% of people with stroke pre-intervention, rising to 32% by 12 months post-intervention. This change represents a modest increase in practice behaviour (15%) across teams. More people with stroke (57%) reported getting out of the house as often as they wanted after receiving the outdoor journey intervention compared to 35% one year earlier; other quality of life outcomes also improved.
The 'Out-and-About Implementation Program' helped rehabilitation teams to change their practice, implement evidence, and improve client outcomes. This behavioural intervention requires more rigorous evaluation using a cluster randomised trial design.
Transferring knowledge from research into practice can be challenging, partly because the process involves a change in attitudes, roles and behaviour by individuals and teams. Helping teams to identify then target potential barriers may aid the knowledge transfer process. The aim of this study was to identify barriers and enablers, as perceived by allied health professionals, to delivering an evidence-based (Level 1) outdoor journey intervention for people with stroke.
A qualitative design and semi-structured interviews were used. Allied health professionals (n = 13) from two community rehabilitation teams were interviewed, before and after receiving feedback from a medical record audit and attending a training workshop. Interviews allowed participants to identify potential and actual barriers, as well as enablers to delivering the intervention. Qualitative data were analysed using theoretical domains described by Michie and colleagues.
Two barriers to delivery of the intervention were the social influence of people with stroke and their family, and professionals' beliefs about their capabilities. Other barriers included professionals' knowledge and skills, their role identity, availability of resources, whether professionals remembered to provide the intervention, and how they felt about delivering the intervention. Enablers to delivering the intervention included a belief that they could deliver the intervention, a willingness to expand and share professional roles, procedures that reminded them what to do, and feeling good about helping people with stroke to participate.
This study represents one step in the quality improvement process. The interviews encouraged reflection by staff. We obtained valuable data which have been used to plan behaviour change interventions addressing identified barriers. Our methods may assist other researchers who need to design similar behaviour change interventions.
Hyperglycaemia, fever, and swallowing dysfunction are poorly managed in the admission phase of acute stroke, and patient outcomes are compromised. Use of evidence-based guidelines could improve care but have not been effectively implemented. Our study aims to develop and trial an intervention based on multidisciplinary team-building to improve management of fever, hyperglycaemia, and swallowing dysfunction in patients following acute stroke.
Methods and design
Metropolitan acute stroke units (ASUs) located in New South Wales, Australia will be stratified by service category (A or B) and, within strata, by baseline patient recruitment numbers (high or low) in this prospective, multicentre, single-blind, cluster randomised controlled trial (CRCT). ASUs then will be randomised independently to either intervention or control groups. ASUs allocated to the intervention group will receive: unit-based workshops to identify local barriers and enablers; a standardised core education program; evidence-based clinical treatment protocols; and ongoing engagement of local staff. Control group ASUs will receive only an abridged version of the National Clinical Guidelines for Acute Stroke Management. The following outcome measures will be collected at 90 days post-hospital admission: patient death, disability (modified Rankin Score); dependency (Barthel Index) and Health Status (SF-36). Additional measures include: performance of swallowing screening within 24 hours of admission; glycaemic control and temperature control.
This is a unique study of research transfer in acute stroke. Providing optimal inpatient care during the admission phase is essential if we are to combat the rising incidence of debilitating stroke. Our CRCT will also allow us to test interventions focussed on multidisciplinary ASU teams rather than individual disciplines, an imperative of modern hospital services.
Australia New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry (ANZCTR) No: ACTRN12608000563369
General practitioners (GPs) are ideally placed to bridge the widely noted evidence-practice gap between current management of NVAF and the need to increase anticoagulant use to reduce the risk of fatal and disabling stroke in NVAF. We aimed to identify gaps in current care, and asked GPs to identify potentially useful strategies to overcome barriers to best practice.
We obtained contact details for a random sample of 1000 GPs from a national commercial data-base. Randomly selected GPs were mailed a questionnaire after an advance letter. Standardised reminders were administered to enhance response rates. As part of a larger survey assessing GP management of NVAF, we included questions to explore GPs' risk assessment, estimates of stroke risk and GPs' perceptions of the risks and benefits of anticoagulation with warfarin. In addition, we explored GPs' perceived barriers to the wider uptake of anticoagulation, quality control of anticoagulation and their assessment of strategies to assist in managing NVAF.
596 out of 924 eligible GPs responded (64.4% response rate). The majority of GPs recognised that the benefits of warfarin outweighed the risks for three case scenarios in which warfarin is recommended according to Australian guidelines. In response to a hypothetical case scenario describing a patient with a supratherapeutic INR level of 5, 41.4% of the 596 GPs (n = 247) and 22.0% (n = 131) would be "highly likely" or "likely", respectively, to cease warfarin therapy and resume at a lower dose when INR levels are within therapeutic range. Only 27.9% (n = 166/596) would reassess the patient's INR levels within one day of recording the supratherapeutic INR. Patient contraindications to warfarin was reported to "usually" or "always" apply to the patients of 40.6% (n = 242/596) of GPs when considering whether or not to prescribe warfarin. Patient refusal to take warfarin "usually" or "always" applied to the patients of 22.3% (n = 133/596) of GPs. When asked to indicate the usefulness of strategies to assist in managing NVAF, the majority of GPs (89.1%, n = 531/596) reported that they would find patient educational resources outlining the benefits and risks of available treatments "quite useful" or "very useful". Just under two-thirds (65.2%; n = 389/596) reported that they would find point of care INR testing "quite" or "very" useful. An outreach specialist service and training to enable GPs to practice stroke medicine as a special interest were also considered to be "quite" or "very useful" by 61.9% (n = 369/596) GPs.
This survey identified gaps, based on GP self-report, in the current care of NVAF. GPs themselves have provided guidance on the selection of implementation strategies to bridge these gaps. These results may inform future initiatives designed to reduce the risk of fatal and disabling stroke in NVAF.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a significant health problem worldwide. This randomised controlled trial aims at testing a new approach that involves a registered nurse working in partnership with patients, general practitioners (GPs) and other health professionals to provide care to patients according to the evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. The aim is to determine the impact of this partnership on the quality of care and patient outcomes.
A cluster randomised control trial design was chosen for this study. Randomisation occurred at practice level. GPs practising in South Western Sydney, Australia and their COPD patients were recruited for the study.
The intervention was implemented by nurses specifically recruited and trained for this study. Nurses, working in partnership with GPs, developed care plans for patients based on the Australian COPDX guidelines. The aim was to optimise patient management, improve function, prevent deterioration and enhance patient knowledge and skills. Control group patients received 'usual' care from their GPs.
Data collection includes patient demographic profiles and their co-morbidities. Spirometry is being performed to assess patients' COPD status and CO analyser to validate their smoking status. Patients' quality of life and overall health status are being measured by St George's Respiratory Questionnaire and SF-12 respectively. Other patient measures being recorded include health service use, immunisation status, and knowledge of COPD. Qualitative methods will be used to explore participants' satisfaction with the intervention and their opinion about the value of the partnership.
Analysis will be by intention to treat. Intra-cluster (practice) correlation coefficients will be determined and published for all primary outcome variables to assist future research. The effect of the intervention on outcomes measured on a continuous scale will be estimated and tested using mixed model analysis of variance in which time and treatment group will be fixed effects and GP practice and subject nested within practice will be random effects. The effect of the intervention on the dichotomous variables (such as smoking status, patient knowledge) will be analysed using generalised estimating equations with a logistic link and a model structure that is analogous to that described above.