Implementing a complex rehabilitation intervention in a stroke trial: a qualitative process evaluation of AVERT

Luker, J. A., Craig, L. E., Bennett, L., Ellery, F., Langhorne, P. , Wu, O. and Bernhardt, J. (2016) Implementing a complex rehabilitation intervention in a stroke trial: a qualitative process evaluation of AVERT. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 16, 52. (doi: 10.1186/s12874-016-0156-9) (PMID:27164839) (PMCID:PMC4862225)

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Background The implementation of multidisciplinary stroke rehabilitation interventions is challenging, even when the intervention is evidence-based. Very little is known about the implementation of complex interventions in rehabilitation clinical trials. The aim of study was to better understand how the implementation of a rehabilitation intervention in a clinical trial within acute stroke units is experienced by the staff involved. This qualitative process evaluation was part of a large Phase III stroke rehabilitation trial (AVERT). Methods A descriptive qualitative approach was used. We purposively sampled 53 allied health and nursing staff from 19 acute stroke units in Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. Semi-structured interviews were conducted by phone, voice-internet, or face to face. Digitally recorded interviews were transcribed and analysed by two researchers using rigorous thematic analysis. Results Our analysis uncovered ten important themes that provide insight into the challenges of implementing complex new rehabilitation practices within complex care settings, plus factors and strategies that assisted implementation. Themes were grouped into three main categories: staff experience of implementing the trial intervention, barriers to implementation, and overcoming the barriers. Participation in the trial was challenging but had personal rewards and improved teamwork at some sites. Over the years that the trial ran some staff perceived a change in usual care. Barriers to trial implementation at some sites included poor teamwork, inadequate staffing, various organisational barriers, staff attitudes and beliefs, and patient-related barriers. Participants described successful implementation strategies that were built on interdisciplinary teamwork, education and strong leadership to ‘get staff on board’, and developing different ways of working. Conclusions The AVERT stroke rehabilitation trial required commitment to deliver an intervention that needed strong collaboration between nurses and physiotherapists and was different to current care models. This qualitative process evaluation contributes unique insights into factors that may be critical to successful trials teams, and as AVERT was a pragmatic trial, success factors to delivering complex intervention in clinical practice.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Langhorne, Professor Peter and Wu, Professor Olivia
Authors: Luker, J. A., Craig, L. E., Bennett, L., Ellery, F., Langhorne, P., Wu, O., and Bernhardt, J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Health Economics and Health Technology Assessment
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Health
Journal Name:BMC Medical Research Methodology
Publisher:BioMed Central
ISSN (Online):1471-2288
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Luker et al.
First Published:First published in BMC Medical Research Methodology 16:52
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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