The decision to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in a field raises ethical as well as scientific issues. From the clinical equipoise literature, future trials are justifiable if there is ”honest, professional disagreement in the community of expert practitioners as to the preferred treatment”. Empirical data are sparse about how clinicians apply the principles of equipoise to the justification of future RCTs. For example, selective decontamination of the digestive tract (SDD) is not widely used in critical care practice despite the strength of the evidence base and therefore provides a unique opportunity to learn how clinicians think about the ethics of further RCTs in critical care.
In an international interview study of views of healthcare professionals about SDD, we undertook a secondary analysis of qualitative data collected using a Theoretical Domains Framework of clinical behaviour. We adopted a general descriptive approach to explore how physicians determined whether another RCT of SDD is ethical. Following a constant comparison approach, three investigators reviewed 54 purposively chosen transcripts from three international regions. We interpreted the data using thematic analysis.
We grouped participants’ responses into four inter-related themes: 1) cultural norms about evidence and practice within healthcare; 2) personal views about what evidence is current or applicable; 3) the interpersonal and relational nature of professional decision making locally; and 4) an a priori commitment to future trials. The analysis also identified several unresolved tensions regarding when a future RCT should be pursued. These tensions focused on a clash between potential benefits to current individual patients and potential future harms to patients more broadly.
Our study suggests that ethical decision making about future RCTs in the field of SDD does not rely strongly on appeals to evidence, even when the quality of the evidence is reasonably high. Rather, “extra-evidential” reasons, including social, professional, and relational factors, seem to influence opinions regarding the ethics of future trials. Further work is required to see if these conclusions are applicable to other clinical topics and settings.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-015-1137-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Ethics; Clinical equipoise; Harm-benefit analysis; Critical care; Evidence-based medicine; Qualitative research; Randomized controlled trials
The use of multiple medicines (polypharmacy) is increasingly common in older people. Ensuring that patients receive the most appropriate combinations of medications (appropriate polypharmacy) is a significant challenge. The quality of evidence to support the effectiveness of interventions to improve appropriate polypharmacy is low. Systematic identification of mediators of behaviour change, using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF), provides a theoretically robust evidence base to inform intervention design. This study aimed to (1) identify key theoretical domains that were perceived to influence the prescribing and dispensing of appropriate polypharmacy to older patients by general practitioners (GPs) and community pharmacists, and (2) map domains to associated behaviour change techniques (BCTs) to include as components of an intervention to improve appropriate polypharmacy in older people in primary care.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with members of each healthcare professional (HCP) group using tailored topic guides based on TDF version 1 (12 domains). Questions covering each domain explored HCPs’ perceptions of barriers and facilitators to ensuring the prescribing and dispensing of appropriate polypharmacy to older people. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data analysis involved the framework method and content analysis. Key domains were identified and mapped to BCTs based on established methods and discussion within the research team.
Thirty HCPs were interviewed (15 GPs, 15 pharmacists). Eight key domains were identified, perceived to influence prescribing and dispensing of appropriate polypharmacy: ‘Skills’, ‘Beliefs about capabilities’, ‘Beliefs about consequences’, ‘Environmental context and resources’, ‘Memory, attention and decision processes’, ‘Social/professional role and identity’, ‘Social influences’ and ‘Behavioural regulation’. Following mapping, four BCTs were selected for inclusion in an intervention for GPs or pharmacists: ‘Action planning’, ‘Prompts/cues’, ‘Modelling or demonstrating of behaviour’ and ‘Salience of consequences’. An additional BCT (‘Social support or encouragement’) was selected for inclusion in a community pharmacy-based intervention in order to address barriers relating to interprofessional working that were encountered by pharmacists.
Selected BCTs will be operationalised in a theory-based intervention to improve appropriate polypharmacy for older people, to be delivered in GP practice and community pharmacy settings. Future research will involve development and feasibility testing of this intervention.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0349-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Polypharmacy; Intervention; Qualitative; Behaviour change; Prescribing; Dispensing; Theoretical Domains Framework
The aim of this study was to assess opinions of frontline healthcare professionals on the linking of routinely collected national (Scottish) paediatric data for the purpose of identifying earlier signals of adverse drug reactions.
Stratified purposive sampling led to profession-specific focus groups with pharmacists, nurses and medical doctors from primary and secondary care in different Scottish Health Boards. A topic guide was used to explore the proposed data linkage of routinely collected paediatric data. Discussions were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analysed using a framework approach to identify themes. Ethical approval was obtained from the North of Scotland Research Ethics Service.
Six focus groups were conducted in 2011 with 22 participants. Views of the proposed data linkage were generally positive. Several issues were identified, including lack of clarity on data ownership and concerns about diversion of funding. Identified issues were at a practical rather than a strategic level.
This study identified that professional stakeholder groups are likely to find linkage of paediatric patient data acceptable. Barriers identified could be addressed. Focus group participants commented on the importance of informing patients and members of the public about the benefits of linking healthcare data. These findings clarify the steps that should be taken to ensure the acceptability of data linkage for pharmacovigilance.
data linkage; pharmacovigilance; qualitative research
There is growing recognition that “context” can and does modify the effects of implementation interventions aimed at increasing healthcare professionals’ use of research evidence in clinical practice. However, conceptual clarity about what exactly comprises “context” is lacking. The purpose of this research program is to develop, refine, and validate a framework that identifies the key domains of context (and their features) that can facilitate or hinder (1) healthcare professionals’ use of evidence in clinical practice and (2) the effectiveness of implementation interventions.
A multi-phased investigation of context using mixed methods will be conducted. The first phase is a concept analysis of context using the Walker and Avant method to distinguish between the defining and irrelevant attributes of context. This phase will result in a preliminary framework for context that identifies its important domains and their features according to the published literature. The second phase is a secondary analysis of qualitative data from 13 studies of interviews with 312 healthcare professionals on the perceived barriers and enablers to their application of research evidence in clinical practice. These data will be analyzed inductively using constant comparative analysis. For the third phase, we will conduct semi-structured interviews with key health system stakeholders and change agents to elicit their knowledge and beliefs about the contextual features that influence the effectiveness of implementation interventions and healthcare professionals’ use of evidence in clinical practice. Results from all three phases will be synthesized using a triangulation protocol to refine the context framework drawn from the concept analysis. The framework will then be assessed for content validity using an iterative Delphi approach with international experts (researchers and health system stakeholders/change agents).
This research program will result in a framework that identifies the domains of context and their features that can facilitate or hinder: (1) healthcare professionals’ use of evidence in clinical practice and (2) the effectiveness of implementation interventions. The framework will increase the conceptual clarity of the term “context” for advancing implementation science, improving healthcare professionals’ use of evidence in clinical practice, and providing greater understanding of what interventions are likely to be effective in which contexts.
To assess the value of conducting a glaucoma screening randomized controlled trial in the UK.
Decision model based economic evaluation and value of information analysis. Model derived from a previous health technology assessment. Model updated in terms of structure and parameter estimates with data from surveys, interviews with members of the public and health care providers and routine sources.
On average, across a range of ages of initiating screening (40–60 years), glaucoma prevalence (1–5%), screening uptake (30–100%), and the performance of current case finding, screening was not cost-effective at a £30,000 threshold per quality adjusted life year (QALY) from the perspective of the National Health Service (NHS). The societal value of removing all uncertainty around glaucoma screening is £107 million at a threshold of £20,000 per QALY. For informing policy decisions on glaucoma screening, reducing uncertainty surrounding the NHS and personal social care cost of sight impairment (£74 million) was of most value, followed by reducing uncertainty in test performance (£14 million) and uptake of either screening or current eye care (£8 million each).
A glaucoma screening trial in the UK is unlikely to be the best use of research resources. Further research to quantify the costs of sight impairment falling on the NHS and personal social services is a priority. Further development of glaucoma tests and research into strategies to promote the uptake of screening or current eye care such as through the use of a behavioural intervention would be worthwhile.
decision analysis; health policy; public health; ophthalmology
In response to recent calls for clearer specification of behavior change interventions, the purpose of this study was to apply a system of taxonomy for behavior change techniques (BCTs) to two educational interventions to improve adherence to glaucoma eye drops. Clarification of constituent BCTs will promote easy and reliable application of the interventions in clinical settings and research.
A published taxonomy of BCTs was used to code two interventions (group and individual) to increase adherence to eye drops. Intervention materials were coded by assigning a BCT label to each text unit. We noted the frequency with which each BCT occurred, compared the interventions in terms of the BCTs that were delivered, and identified whether the taxonomy was sufficient to describe the intervention components.
The individual intervention consisted of 94 text units. Fifty-seven were identified as targeting behavior change and coded using 18 BCTs, many coded more than once. In the group intervention, 165 units of text were identified, and 125 were coded using 22 BCTs. The most frequently coded BCT was “provide information about behavior–health link” in the group intervention and “prompt barrier identification” in the individual intervention. The interventions included similar BCTs. All text units targeting behavior change were codable into BCTs.
The similarity of the two interventions may have implications for the cost-effectiveness of the interventions. The taxonomy was found sufficient to describe both interventions. This level of specification can be used to ensure that precisely the same intervention that has been pilot tested is reproducible in the clinical setting and in any further research.
behavior change techniques; glaucoma; adherence
Implementation intervention effects can only be fully realised and understood if they are faithfully delivered. However the evaluation of implementation intervention fidelity is not commonly undertaken. The IMPLEMENT intervention was designed to improve the management of low back pain by general medical practitioners. It consisted of a two-session interactive workshop, including didactic presentations and small group discussions by trained facilitators. This study aimed to evaluate the fidelity of the IMPLEMENT intervention by assessing: (1) observed facilitator adherence to planned behaviour change techniques (BCTs); (2) comparison of observed and self-reported adherence to planned BCTs and (3) variation across different facilitators and different BCTs.
The study compared planned and actual, and observed versus self-assessed delivery of BCTs during the IMPLEMENT workshops.
Workshop sessions were audiorecorded and transcribed verbatim. Observed adherence of facilitators to the planned intervention was assessed by analysing the workshop transcripts in terms of BCTs delivered. Self-reported adherence was measured using a checklist completed at the end of each workshop session and was compared with the ‘gold standard’ of observed adherence using sensitivity and specificity analyses.
The overall observed adherence to planned BCTs was 79%, representing moderate-to-high intervention fidelity. There was no significant difference in adherence to BCTs between the facilitators. Sensitivity of self-reported adherence was 95% (95% CI 88 to 98) and specificity was 30% (95% CI 11 to 60).
The findings suggest that the IMPLEMENT intervention was delivered with high levels of adherence to the planned intervention protocol.
Trial registration number
The IMPLEMENT trial was registered in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN012606000098538 (http://www.anzctr.org.au/trial_view.aspx?ID=1162).
Despite the availability of evidence-based guidelines for the management of mild traumatic brain injury in the emergency department (ED), variations in practice exist. Interventions designed to implement recommended behaviours can reduce this variation. Using theory to inform intervention development is advocated; however, there is no consensus on how to select or apply theory. Integrative theoretical frameworks, based on syntheses of theories and theoretical constructs relevant to implementation, have the potential to assist in the intervention development process. This paper describes the process of applying two theoretical frameworks to investigate the factors influencing recommended behaviours and the choice of behaviour change techniques and modes of delivery for an implementation intervention.
A stepped approach was followed: (i) identification of locally applicable and actionable evidence-based recommendations as targets for change, (ii) selection and use of two theoretical frameworks for identifying barriers to and enablers of change (Theoretical Domains Framework and Model of Diffusion of Innovations in Service Organisations) and (iii) identification and operationalisation of intervention components (behaviour change techniques and modes of delivery) to address the barriers and enhance the enablers, informed by theory, evidence and feasibility/acceptability considerations. We illustrate this process in relation to one recommendation, prospective assessment of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) by ED staff using a validated tool.
Four recommendations for managing mild traumatic brain injury were targeted with the intervention. The intervention targeting the PTA recommendation consisted of 14 behaviour change techniques and addressed 6 theoretical domains and 5 organisational domains. The mode of delivery was informed by six Cochrane reviews. It was delivered via five intervention components : (i) local stakeholder meetings, (ii) identification of local opinion leader teams, (iii) a train-the-trainer workshop for appointed local opinion leaders, (iv) local training workshops for delivery by trained local opinion leaders and (v) provision of tools and materials to prompt recommended behaviours.
Two theoretical frameworks were used in a complementary manner to inform intervention development in managing mild traumatic brain injury in the ED. The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the developed intervention is being evaluated in a cluster randomised trial, part of the Neurotrauma Evidence Translation (NET) program.
Intervention design; Intervention development; Theory use; Theoretical domains framework; Diffusion of innovations in service organisations
The aim of the study was to explore and compare junior doctors' perceptions of their self-efficacy in prescribing, their prescribing errors and the possible causes of those errors.
A cross-sectional questionnaire study was distributed to foundation doctors throughout Scotland, based on Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory and Human Error Theory (HET).
Five hundred and forty-eight questionnaires were completed (35.0% of the national cohort). F1s estimated a higher daytime error rate [median 6.7 (IQR 2–12.4)] than F2s [4.0 IQR (0–10) (P = 0.002)], calculated based on the total number of medicines prescribed. The majority of self-reported errors (250, 49.2%) resulted from unintentional actions. Interruptions and pressure from other staff were commonly cited causes of errors. F1s were more likely to report insufficient prescribing skills as a potential cause of error than F2s (P = 0.002). The prescribers did not believe that the outcomes of their errors were serious. F2s reported higher self-efficacy scores than F1s in most aspects of prescribing (P < 0.001).
Foundation doctors were aware of their prescribing errors, yet were confident in their prescribing skills and apparently complacent about the potential consequences of prescribing errors. Error causation is multi-factorial often due to environmental factors, but with lack of knowledge also contributing. Therefore interventions are needed at all levels, including environmental changes, improving knowledge, providing feedback and changing attitudes towards the role of prescribing as a major influence on patient outcome.
junior doctors; human error theory; patient safety; prescribing errors; self-efficacy
Health-care quality in primary care depends largely on the appropriateness of General Practitioners’ (GPs; Primary Care or Family Physicians) decisions, which may be influenced by how difficult they perceive decisions to be. Patient scenarios (clinical or case vignettes) are widely used to investigate GPs’ decision making. This review aimed to identify the extent to which perceived decision difficulty, decision appropriateness, and their relationship have been assessed in scenario studies of GPs’ decision making; identify possible determinants of difficulty and appropriateness; and investigate the relationship between difficulty and appropriateness.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, the Cochrane Library and Web of Science were searched for scenario studies of GPs’ decision making. One author completed article screening. Ten percent of titles and abstracts were checked by an independent volunteer, resulting in 91% agreement. Data on decision difficulty and appropriateness were extracted by one author and descriptively synthesised. Chi-squared tests were used to explore associations between decision appropriateness, decision type and decision appropriateness assessment method.
Of 152 included studies, 66 assessed decision appropriateness and five assessed perceived difficulty. While no studies assessed the relationship between perceived difficulty and appropriateness, one study objectively varied the difficulty of the scenarios and assessed the relationship between a measure of objective difficulty and appropriateness. Across 38 studies where calculations were possible, 62% of the decisions were appropriate as defined by the appropriateness standard used. Chi-squared tests identified statistically significant associations between decision appropriateness, decision type and decision appropriateness assessment method. Findings suggested a negative relationship between decision difficulty and appropriateness, while interventions may have the potential to reduce perceived difficulty.
Scenario-based research into GPs’ decisions rarely considers the relationship between perceived decision difficulty and decision appropriateness. The links between these decisional components require further investigation.
Electronic supplementary material
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Systematic review; Clinical decision making; Decision difficulty; Decision appropriateness; General Practitioner; Primary care physician; Patient scenario; Vignette
Behaviour Change Technique Taxonomy v1 (BCTTv1) has been used to detect active ingredients of interventions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate effectiveness of user training in improving reliable, valid and confident application of BCTTv1 to code BCTs in intervention descriptions. One hundred sixty-one trainees (109 in workshops and 52 in group tutorials) were trained to code frequent BCTs. The following measures were taken before and after training: (i) inter-coder agreement, (ii) trainee agreement with expert consensus, (iii) confidence ratings and (iv) coding competence. Coding was assessed for 12 BCTs (workshops) and for 17 BCTs (tutorials). Trainees completed a course evaluation. Methods improved agreement with expert consensus (p < .05) but not inter-coder agreement (p = .08, p = .57, respectively) and increased confidence for BCTs assessed (both p < .05). Methods were as effective as one another at improving coding competence (p = .55). Training was evaluated positively. The training improved agreement with expert consensus, confidence for BCTs assessed, coding competence but not inter-coder agreement. This varied according to BCT.
Behaviour change techniques; Taxonomy; Training methods
Theory-based process evaluations conducted alongside randomized controlled trials provide the opportunity to investigate hypothesized mechanisms of action of interventions, helping to build a cumulative knowledge base and to inform the interpretation of individual trial outcomes. Our objective was to identify the underlying causal mechanisms in a cluster randomized trial of the effectiveness of printed educational materials (PEMs) to increase referral for diabetic retinopathy screening. We hypothesized that the PEMs would increase physicians’ intention to refer patients for retinal screening by strengthening their attitude and subjective norm, but not their perceived behavioral control.
Design: A theory based process evaluation alongside the Ontario Printed Educational Material (OPEM) cluster randomized trial. Postal surveys based on the Theory of Planned Behavior were sent to a random sample of trial participants two months before and six months after they received the intervention. Setting: Family physicians in Ontario, Canada. Participants: 1,512 family physicians (252 per intervention group) from the OPEM trial were invited to participate, and 31.3% (473/1512) responded at time one and time two. The final sample comprised 437 family physicians fully completing questionnaires at both time points. Main outcome measures: Primary: behavioral intention related to referring patient for retinopathy screening; secondary: attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioral control.
At baseline, family physicians reported positive intention, attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control to advise patients about retinopathy screening suggesting limited opportunities for improvement in these constructs. There were no significant differences on intention, attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control following the intervention. Respondents also reported additional physician- and patient-related factors perceived to influence whether patients received retinopathy screening.
Lack of change in the primary and secondary theory-based outcomes provides an explanation for the lack of observed effect of the main OPEM trial. High baseline levels of intention to advise patients to attend retinopathy screening suggest that post-intentional and other factors may explain gaps in care. Process evaluations based on behavioral theory can provide replicable and generalizable insights to aid interpretation of randomized controlled trials of complex interventions to change health professional behavior.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1748-5908-9-86) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Process evaluation; Theory of planned behavior; Printed educational material; Healthcare professional behavior; Behavior change
Audits of blood transfusion demonstrate around 20% transfusions are outside national recommendations and guidelines. Audit and feedback is a widely used quality improvement intervention but effects on clinical practice are variable, suggesting potential for enhancement. Behavioural theory, theoretical frameworks of behaviour change and behaviour change techniques provide systematic processes to enhance intervention. This study is part of a larger programme of work to promote the uptake of evidence-based transfusion practice.
The objectives of this study are to design two theoretically enhanced audit and feedback interventions; one focused on content and one on delivery, and investigate the feasibility and acceptability.
Study A (Content): A coding framework based on current evidence regarding audit and feedback, and behaviour change theory and frameworks will be developed and applied as part of a structured content analysis to specify the key components of existing feedback documents. Prototype feedback documents with enhanced content and also a protocol, describing principles for enhancing feedback content, will be developed. Study B (Delivery): Individual semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals and observations of team meetings in four hospitals will be used to specify, and identify views about, current audit and feedback practice. Interviews will be based on a topic guide developed using the Theoretical Domains Framework and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. Analysis of transcripts based on these frameworks will form the evidence base for developing a protocol describing an enhanced intervention that focuses on feedback delivery. Study C (Feasibility and Acceptability): Enhanced interventions will be piloted in four hospitals. Semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and observations will be used to assess feasibility and acceptability.
This intervention development work reflects the UK Medical Research Council’s guidance on development of complex interventions, which emphasises the importance of a robust theoretical basis for intervention design and recommends systematic assessment of feasibility and acceptability prior to taking interventions to evaluation in a full-scale randomised study. The work-up includes specification of current practice so that, in the trials to be conducted later in this programme, there will be a clear distinction between the control (usual practice) conditions and the interventions to be evaluated.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-014-0092-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Audit and feedback; Blood transfusion; Implementation; Health services research; Study protocol; Health professional behaviour change
Mild head injuries commonly present to emergency departments. The challenges facing clinicians in emergency departments include identifying which patients have traumatic brain injury, and which patients can safely be sent home. Traumatic brain injuries may exist with subtle symptoms or signs, but can still lead to adverse outcomes. Despite the existence of several high quality clinical practice guidelines, internationally and in Australia, research shows inconsistent implementation of these recommendations. The aim of this trial is to test the effectiveness of a targeted, theory- and evidence-informed implementation intervention to increase the uptake of three key clinical recommendations regarding the emergency department management of adult patients (18 years of age or older) who present following mild head injuries (concussion), compared with passive dissemination of these recommendations. The primary objective is to establish whether the intervention is effective in increasing the percentage of patients for which appropriate post-traumatic amnesia screening is performed.
The design of this study is a cluster randomised trial. We aim to include 34 Australian 24-hour emergency departments, which will be randomised to an intervention or control group. Control group departments will receive a copy of the most recent Australian evidence-based clinical practice guideline on the acute management of patients with mild head injuries. The intervention group will receive an implementation intervention based on an analysis of influencing factors, which include local stakeholder meetings, identification of nursing and medical opinion leaders in each site, a train-the-trainer day and standardised education and interactive workshops delivered by the opinion leaders during a 3 month period of time. Clinical practice outcomes will be collected retrospectively from medical records by independent chart auditors over the 2 month period following intervention delivery (patient level outcomes). In consenting hospitals, eligible patients will be recruited for a follow-up telephone interview conducted by trained researchers. A cost-effectiveness analysis and process evaluation using mixed-methods will be conducted. Sample size calculations are based on including 30 patients on average per department. Outcome assessors will be blinded to group allocation.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12612001286831 (date registered 12 December 2012).
Mild traumatic brain injury; Cluster trial; Emergency department
New clinical research findings may require clinicians to change their behaviour to provide high-quality care to people with type 2 diabetes, likely requiring them to change multiple different clinical behaviours. The present study builds on findings from a UK-wide study of theory-based behavioural and organisational factors associated with prescribing, advising, and examining consistent with high-quality diabetes care.
To develop and evaluate the effectiveness and cost of an intervention to improve multiple behaviours in clinicians involved in delivering high-quality care for type 2 diabetes.
We will conduct a two-armed cluster randomised controlled trial in 44 general practices in the North East of England to evaluate a theory-based behaviour change intervention. We will target improvement in six underperformed clinical behaviours highlighted in quality standards for type 2 diabetes: prescribing for hypertension; prescribing for glycaemic control; providing physical activity advice; providing nutrition advice; providing on-going education; and ensuring that feet have been examined. The primary outcome will be the proportion of patients appropriately prescribed and examined (using anonymised computer records), and advised (using anonymous patient surveys) at 12 months. We will use behaviour change techniques targeting motivational, volitional, and impulsive factors that we have previously demonstrated to be predictive of multiple health professional behaviours involved in high-quality type 2 diabetes care. We will also investigate whether the intervention was delivered as designed (fidelity) by coding audiotaped workshops and interventionist delivery reports, and operated as hypothesised (process evaluation) by analysing responses to theory-based postal questionnaires. In addition, we will conduct post-trial qualitative interviews with practice teams to further inform the process evaluation, and a post-trial economic analysis to estimate the costs of the intervention and cost of service use.
Consistent with UK Medical Research Council guidance and building on previous development research, this pragmatic cluster randomised trial will evaluate the effectiveness of a theory-based complex intervention focusing on changing multiple clinical behaviours to improve quality of diabetes care.
Healthcare policy leaders internationally recognise that people's experiences of healthcare delivery are important, and invest significant resources to monitor and improve them. However, the value of particular aspects of experiences of healthcare delivery – relative to each other and to other healthcare outcomes – is unclear.
This paper considers how economic techniques have been and might be used to generate quantitative estimates of the value of particular experiences of healthcare delivery.
A recently published conceptual map of patients' experiences served to guide the scope and focus of the enquiry. The map represented both what health services and staff are like and do and what individual patients can feel like, be and do (while they are using services and subsequently).
We conducted a systematic search for applications of economic techniques to healthcare delivery. We found that these techniques have been quite widely used to estimate the value of features of healthcare systems and processes (e.g. of care delivery by a nurse rather than a doctor, or of a consultation of 10 minutes rather than 15 minutes), but much less to estimate the value of the implications of these features for patients personally.
To inform future research relating to the valuation of experiences of healthcare delivery, we organised a workshop for key stakeholders. Participants undertook and discussed ‘exercises’ that explored the use of different economic techniques to value descriptions of healthcare delivery that linked processes to what patients felt like and were able to be and do. The workshop identified a number of methodological issues that need careful attention, and highlighted some important concerns about the ways in which quantitative estimates of the value of experiences of healthcare delivery might be used. However the workshop confirmed enthusiasm for efforts to attend directly to the implications of healthcare delivery from patients' perspectives, including in terms of their capabilities.
•Significant efforts have been made to measure experiences of healthcare delivery.•Efforts to value experiences have focused on healthcare systems and processes.•The value of their implications for patients personally has been neglected.•Economic valuation techniques are promising but face challenges in this domain.
Quality of healthcare; Patient acceptance of healthcare; Economic evaluation; Process utility; Capabilities approach
Dementia is a growing problem, causing substantial burden for patients, their families, and society. General practitioners (GPs) play an important role in diagnosing and managing dementia; however, there are gaps between recommended and current practice. The aim of this study was to explore GPs’ reported practice in diagnosing and managing dementia and to describe, in theoretical terms, the proposed explanations for practice that was and was not consistent with evidence-based guidelines.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with GPs in Victoria, Australia. The Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) guided data collection and analysis. Interviews explored the factors hindering and enabling achievement of 13 recommended behaviours. Data were analysed using content and thematic analysis. This paper presents an in-depth description of the factors influencing two behaviours, assessing co-morbid depression using a validated tool, and conducting a formal cognitive assessment using a validated scale.
A total of 30 GPs were interviewed. Most GPs reported that they did not assess for co-morbid depression using a validated tool as per recommended guidance. Barriers included the belief that depression can be adequately assessed using general clinical indicators and that validated tools provide little additional information (theoretical domain of ‘Beliefs about consequences’); discomfort in using validated tools (‘Emotion’), possibly due to limited training and confidence (‘Skills’; ‘Beliefs about capabilities’); limited awareness of the need for, and forgetting to conduct, a depression assessment (‘Knowledge’; ‘Memory, attention and decision processes’). Most reported practising in a manner consistent with the recommendation that a formal cognitive assessment using a validated scale be undertaken. Key factors enabling this were having an awareness of the need to conduct a cognitive assessment (‘Knowledge’); possessing the necessary skills and confidence (‘Skills’; ‘Beliefs about capabilities’); and having adequate time and resources (‘Environmental context and resources’).
This is the first study to our knowledge to use a theoretical approach to investigate the barriers and enablers to guideline-recommended diagnosis and management of dementia in general practice. It has identified key factors likely to explain GPs’ uptake of the guidelines. The results have informed the design of an intervention aimed at supporting practice change in line with dementia guidelines, which is currently being evaluated in a cluster randomised trial.
Dementia; General practitioners (GPs); Cognitive assessment; Depression assessment; Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF); Guideline implementation
The inclusion of the Community Health Index in the recording of National Health Service (NHS) contacts in Scotland facilitates national linkage of data such as prescribing and healthcare utilisation. This linkage could be the basis for identification of adverse drug reactions. The aim of this article is to report the views of healthcare professionals on data sharing, ownership and the legal and other applicable frameworks relevant to linkage of routinely collected paediatric healthcare data.
Qualitative study using semistructured face-to-face interviews addressing the study aims.
Purposive sample of professional stakeholders (n=25) including experts on ethics, data protection, pharmacovigilance, data linkage, legal issues and prescribing. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed using a framework approach.
Participants identified existing data sharing systems in the UK. Access to healthcare data should be approved by the data owners. The definition of data ownership and associated legal responsibilities for linked healthcare data were seen as important factors to ensure accountability for the use of linked data. Yet data owners were seen as facilitators of the proposed data linkage. Twelve frameworks (legal, regulatory and governance) applicable to the linkage of healthcare data were identified.
A large number of potentially relevant legal and regulatory frameworks were identified. Ownership of the linked data was seen as an extension of responsibility for, or guardianship of, the source datasets. The consensus emerging from the present study was that clarity is required on the definition of data sharing, data ownership and responsibilities of data owners.
Pharmacovigilance; Prescribing; Data Sharing; Data Ownership; Data Linkage
Audit and feedback interventions in healthcare have been found to be effective, but there has been little progress with respect to understanding their mechanisms of action or identifying their key ‘active ingredients.’
Given the increasing use of audit and feedback to improve quality of care, it is imperative to focus further research on understanding how and when it works best. In this paper, we argue that continuing the ‘business as usual’ approach to evaluating two-arm trials of audit and feedback interventions against usual care for common problems and settings is unlikely to contribute new generalizable findings. Future audit and feedback trials should incorporate evidence- and theory-based best practices, and address known gaps in the literature.
We offer an agenda for high-priority research topics for implementation researchers that focuses on reviewing best practices for designing audit and feedback interventions to optimize effectiveness.
Audit and feedback; Synthesis; Best practice; Implementation; Optimization
Mild traumatic brain injury is a frequent cause of presentation to emergency departments. Despite the availability of clinical practice guidelines in this area, there is variation in practice. One of the aims of the Neurotrauma Evidence Translation program is to develop and evaluate a targeted, theory- and evidence-informed intervention to improve the management of mild traumatic brain injury in Australian emergency departments. This study is the first step in the intervention development process and uses the Theoretical Domains Framework to explore the factors perceived to influence the uptake of four key evidence-based recommended practices for managing mild traumatic brain injury.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with emergency staff in the Australian state of Victoria. The interview guide was developed using the Theoretical Domains Framework to explore current practice and to identify the factors perceived to influence practice. Two researchers coded the interview transcripts using thematic content analysis.
A total of 42 participants (9 Directors, 20 doctors and 13 nurses) were interviewed over a seven-month period. The results suggested that (i) the prospective assessment of post-traumatic amnesia was influenced by: knowledge; beliefs about consequences; environmental context and resources; skills; social/professional role and identity; and beliefs about capabilities; (ii) the use of guideline-developed criteria or decision rules to inform the appropriate use of a CT scan was influenced by: knowledge; beliefs about consequences; environmental context and resources; memory, attention and decision processes; beliefs about capabilities; social influences; skills and behavioral regulation; (iii) providing verbal and written patient information on discharge was influenced by: beliefs about consequences; environmental context and resources; memory, attention and decision processes; social/professional role and identity; and knowledge; (iv) the practice of providing brief, routine follow-up on discharge was influenced by: environmental context and resources; social/professional role and identity; knowledge; beliefs about consequences; and motivation and goals.
Using the Theoretical Domains Framework, factors thought to influence the management of mild traumatic brain injury in the emergency department were identified. These factors present theoretically based targets for a future intervention.
Emergency department management; Mild traumatic brain injury; Theoretical Domains Framework; Semi-structured interviews
Study objectives were to investigate the prevalence and causes of prescribing errors amongst foundation doctors (i.e. junior doctors in their first (F1) or second (F2) year of post-graduate training), describe their knowledge and experience of prescribing errors, and explore their self-efficacy (i.e. confidence) in prescribing.
A three-part mixed-methods design was used, comprising: prospective observational study; semi-structured interviews and cross-sectional survey. All doctors prescribing in eight purposively selected hospitals in Scotland participated. All foundation doctors throughout Scotland participated in the survey. The number of prescribing errors per patient, doctor, ward and hospital, perceived causes of errors and a measure of doctors' self-efficacy were established.
4710 patient charts and 44,726 prescribed medicines were reviewed. There were 3364 errors, affecting 1700 (36.1%) charts (overall error rate: 7.5%; F1:7.4%; F2:8.6%; consultants:6.3%). Higher error rates were associated with : teaching hospitals (p<0.001), surgical (p = <0.001) or mixed wards (0.008) rather thanmedical ward, higher patient turnover wards (p<0.001), a greater number of prescribed medicines (p<0.001) and the months December and June (p<0.001). One hundred errors were discussed in 40 interviews. Error causation was multi-factorial; work environment and team factors were particularly noted. Of 548 completed questionnaires (national response rate of 35.4%), 508 (92.7% of respondents) reported errors, most of which (328 (64.6%) did not reach the patient. Pressure from other staff, workload and interruptions were cited as the main causes of errors. Foundation year 2 doctors reported greater confidence than year 1 doctors in deciding the most appropriate medication regimen.
Prescribing errors are frequent and of complex causation. Foundation doctors made more errors than other doctors, but undertook the majority of prescribing, making them a key target for intervention. Contributing causes included work environment, team, task, individual and patient factors. Further work is needed to develop and assess interventions that address these.
Audit and feedback to physicians is a commonly used quality improvement strategy, but its optimal design is unknown. This trial tested the effects of a theory-informed worksheet to facilitate goal setting and action planning, appended to feedback reports on chronic disease management, compared to feedback reports provided without these worksheets.
A two-arm pragmatic cluster randomized trial was conducted, with allocation at the level of primary care clinics. Participants were family physicians who contributed data from their electronic medical records. The ‘usual feedback’ arm received feedback every six months for two years regarding the proportion of their patients meeting quality targets for diabetes and/or ischemic heart disease. The intervention arm received these same reports plus a worksheet designed to facilitate goal setting and action plan development in response to the feedback reports. Blood pressure (BP) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) values were compared after two years as the primary outcomes. Process outcomes measured the proportion of guideline-recommended actions (e.g., testing and prescribing) conducted within the appropriate timeframe. Intention-to-treat analysis was performed.
Outcomes were similar across groups at baseline. Final analysis included 20 physicians from seven clinics and 1,832 patients in the intervention arm (15% loss to follow up) and 29 physicians from seven clinics and 2,223 patients in the usual feedback arm (10% loss to follow up). Ten of 20 physicians completed the worksheet at least once during the study. Mean BP was 128/72 in the feedback plus worksheet arm and 128/73 in the feedback alone arm, while LDL was 2.1 and 2.0, respectively. Thus, no significant differences were observed across groups in the primary outcomes, but mean haemoglobin A1c was lower in the feedback plus worksheet arm (7.2% versus 7.4%, p<0.001). Improvements in both arms were noted over time for one-half of the process outcomes.
Appending a theory-informed goal setting and action planning worksheet to an externally produced audit and feedback intervention did not lead to improvements in patient outcomes. The results may be explained in part by passive dissemination of the worksheet leading to inadequate engagement with the intervention.