Research Practice and Methodology

Collection of articles on Research Practice and Methodology is available here.
The value of social practice theory for implementation science: learning from a theory-based mixed methods process evaluation of a randomised controlled trial
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Frost J, Wingham J, Britten N, Greaves C, Abraham C, Warren FC, et al.
BMC Med Res Methodol 2020 Jul 6;20(1):181-020-01060-5.
BACKGROUND: Although there is trial evidence that complex interventions are effective for the self-management of heart failure, little evidence supports their effectiveness in routine practice. We used Social Practice Theory to guide a Type 1 Hybrid Trial: a mixed methods process evaluation of a complex intervention for heart failure. The objective of this paper is to explore the value of Social Practice Theory for implementation science. METHODS: Social Practice Theory informed a mixed methods process evaluation of a multi-centre randomised controlled trial of a 12 week home-based intervention to optimise self-care support for people with heart failure and their caregivers – Rehabilitation EnAblement in Chronic Heart Failure (REACH-HF). Interviews were conducted with 19 people with heart failure and 17 caregivers at 4 months and 12 months after recruitment into the trial. Cases were constructed at the level of the individual, couple, facilitator and centre; and included multi-modal process and outcome data. Evaluative coding and subsequent within- and cross-case analyses enabled the development of a typology of relationships linking fidelity of intervention delivery and tailoring of content to individual needs and concerns. Social Practice Theory was used to interrogate the relationships between elements of the intervention and their implementation. RESULTS: Of 216 trial participants, 107 were randomised to the intervention (REACH-HF plus usual care). The intervention was most effective when fidelity was high and delivery was tailored to the individual’s needs, but less effective when both tailoring and fidelity were low. Theory-based analysis enabled us to model complex relationships between intervention elements (competencies, materials and meanings) and social context. The findings illustrate how intervention fidelity and tailoring are contextual and how the effectiveness of the REACH-HF intervention depended on both optimal alignment and implementation of these elements. CONCLUSION: The study demonstrates the utility of theory-based analysis which integrates data from multiple sources to highlight contexts and circumstances in which interventions work best. Social Practice Theory provides a framework for guiding and analysing the processes by which a complex intervention is evaluated in a clinical trial, and has the potential to guide context-specific implementation strategies for clinical practice. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN, IISRCTN86234930 . Registered 13th November 2014.

Engaging multi-stakeholder perspectives to identify dementia care research priorities
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Patel NK, Masoud SS, Meyer K, Davila AV, Rivette S, Glassner AA, et al.
J Patient Rep Outcomes 2021 Jun 22;5(1):46-021-00325-x.
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to partner with stakeholders to identify gaps in care for persons living with dementia and their family caregivers and from this list, identify priorities for dementia care research. METHODS: Using a community-engaged research approach, a Stakeholder Advisory Council (SAC) consisting of diverse membership including persons living with dementia and family caregivers was convened. Through our work with the SAC, along with input from the wider network through a symposium, webinars, and an online learning community, gaps in dementia care and a list of topics for dementia care research was generated. This list was reduced to 46 topics for dementia care research and sent to stakeholders (persons living with dementia, family caregivers, and health/social care professionals in dementia care) to be prioritized by rating each of the 46 topics as “Not so important,” “Important,” or “Very important.” Priorities for dementia care were summarized by frequencies and proportions. RESULTS: A total of 186 participants completed the survey from August through October 2020, including 23 (12.4%) persons living with dementia, 101 (54.3%) family caregivers, and 62 (33.3%) health/social care professionals. Consistent across stakeholder groups was the focus on research on how best to support families following a diagnosis of dementia. Among persons living with dementia, research focused on support for continuing to live in their own homes was ranked as the highest priority, rated by 91.3% as “Very Important”. High priority research areas for family caregivers included interventions to slow cognitive decline (76.3%) as well as non-pharmacological approaches to manage behavioral symptoms (74.7%). The highest priority research topics for health/social care professionals were focused on the diagnosis including benefits of an early diagnosis (71.4%), how best to deliver the diagnosis (70.9%), and supports needed following a diagnosis (78.6%). CONCLUSIONS: This project draws on the strengths of its multi-stakeholder perspective to support patient-centered outcomes research. Findings are intended to inform those who conduct research and those who fund research about which research topics stakeholders believe are most important and thus have greatest potential to improve the quality of life among people living with dementia and their families.

Pragmatic approaches to analyzing qualitative data for implementation science: an introduction
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Ramanadhan S, Revette AC, Lee RM, Aveling EL.
Implement Sci Commun 2021 Jun 29;2(1):70-021-00174-1.
Qualitative methods are critical for implementation science as they generate opportunities to examine complexity and include a diversity of perspectives. However, it can be a challenge to identify the approach that will provide the best fit for achieving a given set of practice-driven research needs. After all, implementation scientists must find a balance between speed and rigor, reliance on existing frameworks and new discoveries, and inclusion of insider and outsider perspectives. This paper offers guidance on taking a pragmatic approach to analysis, which entails strategically combining and borrowing from established qualitative approaches to meet a study’s needs, typically with guidance from an existing framework and with explicit research and practice change goals.Section 1 offers a series of practical questions to guide the development of a pragmatic analytic approach. These include examining the balance of inductive and deductive procedures, the extent to which insider or outsider perspectives are privileged, study requirements related to data and products that support scientific advancement and practice change, and strategic resource allocation. This is followed by an introduction to three approaches commonly considered for implementation science projects: grounded theory, framework analysis, and interpretive phenomenological analysis, highlighting core analytic procedures that may be borrowed for a pragmatic approach. Section 2 addresses opportunities to ensure and communicate rigor of pragmatic analytic approaches. Section 3 provides an illustrative example from the team’s work, highlighting how a pragmatic analytic approach was designed and executed and the diversity of research and practice products generated.As qualitative inquiry gains prominence in implementation science, it is critical to take advantage of qualitative methods’ diversity and flexibility. This paper furthers the conversation regarding how to strategically mix and match components of established qualitative approaches to meet the analytic needs of implementation science projects, thereby supporting high-impact research and improved opportunities to create practice change.

Development of an integrative coding framework for evaluating context within implementation science
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Rogers L, De Brún A, McAuliffe E.
BMC Med Res Methodol 2020 Jun 15;20(1):158-020-01044-5.
BACKGROUND: This research aims to explore an identified gap in implementation science methodology, that is, how to assess context in implementation research. Context is among the strongest influences on implementation success but is a construct that is poorly understood and reported within the literature. Consequently, there is little guidance on how to research context. This study addresses this issue by developing a method to account for the active role of context during implementation research. Through use of a case study, this paper demonstrates the value of using our context coding framework. METHODS: The developed context coding framework was guided by the sub-elements of the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Employing a constructivist approach, this framework builds on the CFIR and enables a deeper exploration of context at multiple levels of the health system. The coding framework enables the collation of various data sources such as organisational reports, culture audits, interview, survey, and observational data. It may be continuously updated as new data emerge and can be adapted by researchers as required. A pre-existing rating criterion has been integrated to the context coding framework to highlight the influence and relative strength of each contextual factor prior to and during implementation. RESULTS: It is anticipated that the context coding framework will facilitate a standardised approach to assessing context. This will provide a deeper understanding of how to account for the influence of context, ultimately providing guidance that should increase the likelihood of implementation success. The coding framework enables implementation progress to be monitored, facilitating the identification of contextual changes and variations across settings at different levels of the healthcare system. It is expected this framework will inform the selection of appropriate implementation strategies and enable the monitoring of such strategies regarding their impact on local context. CONCLUSIONS: This research contributes to the extant literature by advancing methodologies for the consideration and assessment of context in implementation research. This context coding framework may be used in any setting to provide insight into the characteristics of particular contexts throughout implementation processes.

The STS case study: an analysis method for longitudinal qualitative research for implementation science
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Van Tiem JM, Schacht Reisinger H, Friberg JE, Wilson JR, Fitzwater L, Panos RJ, et al.
BMC Med Res Methodol 2021 Feb 5;21(1):27-021-01215-y.
BACKGROUND: Ethnographic approaches offer a method and a way of thinking about implementation. This manuscript applies a specific case study method to describe the impact of the longitudinal interplay between implementation stakeholders. Growing out of science and technology studies (STS) and drawing on the latent archaeological sensibilities implied by ethnographic methods, the STS case-study is a tool for implementors to use when a piece of material culture is an essential component of an innovation. METHODS: We conducted an ethnographic process evaluation of the clinical implementation of tele-critical care (Tele-CC) services in the Department of Veterans Affairs. We collected fieldnotes and conducted participant observation at virtual and in-person education and planning events (n = 101 h). At Go-Live and 6-months post-implementation, we conducted site visits to the Tele-CC hub and 3 partnered ICUs. We led semi-structured interviews with ICU staff at Go-Live (43 interviews with 65 participants) and with ICU and Tele-CC staff 6-months post-implementation (44 interviews with 67 participants). We used verification strategies, including methodological coherence, appropriate sampling, collecting and analyzing data concurrently, and thinking theoretically, to ensure the reliability and validity of our data collection and analysis process. RESULTS: The STS case-study helped us realize that we must think differently about how a Tele-CC clinician could be noticed moving from communal to intimate space. To understand how perceptions of surveillance impacted staff acceptance, we mapped the materials through which surveillance came to matter in the stories staff told about cameras, buttons, chimes, motors, curtains, and doorbells. CONCLUSIONS: STS case-studies contribute to the literature on longitudinal qualitive research (LQR) in implementation science, including pen portraits and periodic reflections. Anchored by the material, the heterogeneity of an STS case-study generates questions and encourages exploring differences. Begun early enough, the STS case-study method, like periodic reflections, can serve to iteratively inform data collection for researchers and implementors. The next step is to determine systematically how material culture can reveal implementation barriers and direct attention to potential solutions that address tacit, deeply rooted challenges to innovations in practice and technology.