Training registered nurses to conduct pre-implementation assessment to inform program scale-up: an example from the rural Transitions Nurse Program.Implement Sci Commun. 2021 Mar 08; 2(1):28.IS
Adapting evidence-based practices to local settings is critical for successful implementation and dissemination. A pre-implementation assessment evaluates local context to inform implementation, but there is little published guidance for clinician-implementers. The rural Transitions Nurse Program (TNP) is a care coordination intervention that facilitates care transitions for rural veterans. In year 1 of TNP, pre-implementation assessments were conducted by a centralized project team through multi-day visits at five sites nationwide. In year 2, we tested if local site TNP nurses could conduct pre-implementation assessments using evidence-based tools and coaching from the TNP team. This required developing a multicomponent pre-implementation strategy bundle to guide data collection and synthesis. We hypothesized that (1) nurses would find the pre-implementation assessment useful for tailoring TNP to local contexts and (2) nurses would identify similar barriers and facilitators to those identified at first year sites.
The bundle included guides for conducting key informant interviews, brainwriting, process mapping, and reflective journaling. We evaluated TNP nurse satisfaction and perceived utility of the structure and process of the training and bundle through pre-post surveys. To assess the outcome of data collection efforts, we interviewed nurses 4 months after completion of the pre-implementation assessment to determine if and how they used pre-implementation findings to tailor implementation of TNP to local contexts. To further assess outcomes, all data that the nurses collected were analyzed thematically. Themes related to barriers and facilitators were compared across years.
Five nurses at different VA medical centers used the pre-implementation strategy bundle to collect site-level data and completed pre-post surveys. Findings indicated that the pre-implementation assessment was highly recommended, and the bundle provided adequate training. Nurses felt that pre-implementation work oriented them to the local context and illustrated how to integrate TNP into existing processes. Barriers and facilitators identified by nurses were similar to those collected in year 1 by the TNP research team, including communication challenges, need for buy-in, and logistical concerns.
This proof-of-concept study suggests that evidence-based tools can effectively guide clinician-implementers through the process of conducting a pre-implementation assessment. This approach positively informed TNP implementation and oriented nurses to their local context prior to implementation.