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Unlocking the “black box” of practice improvement strategies to implement surgical safety checklists: a process evaluation

Authors Gillespie BM, Hamilton K, Ball D, Lavin J, Gardiner TM, Withers TK, Marshall AP

Received 10 October 2016

Accepted for publication 2 February 2017

Published 5 April 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 157—166


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Brigid M Gillespie,1–3 Kyra Hamilton,4 Dianne Ball,5 Joanne Lavin,6 Therese Gardiner,6 Teresa K Withers,7 Andrea P Marshall1–3

1School of Nursing & Midwifery, Griffith University, Gold Coast, 2Gold Coast University Hospital and Health Service, Southport, 3Nursing & Midwifery Education & Research Unit (NMERU), National Centre of Research Excellence in Nursing, Menzies Health Institute of Queensland, Griffith University, Gold Coast, 4School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, 5Communio Pty Ltd, Sydney, 6Nursing & Midwifery Education & Research Unit, 7Surgical and Procedural Services, Gold Coast University Hospital and Health Service, Southport, Australia

Background: Compliance with surgical safety checklists (SSCs) has been associated with improvements in clinical processes such as antibiotic use, correct site marking, and overall safety processes. Yet, proper execution has been difficult to achieve.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to undertake a process evaluation of four knowledge translation (KT) strategies used to implement the Pass the Baton (PTB) intervention which was designed to improve utilization of the SSC.
Methods: As part of the process evaluation, a logic model was generated to explain which KT strategies worked well (or less well) in the operating rooms of a tertiary referral hospital in Queensland, Australia. The KT strategies implemented included change champions/opinion leaders, education, audit and feedback, and reminders. In evaluating the implementation of these strategies, this study considered context, intervention and underpinning assumptions, implementation, and mechanism of impact. Observational and interview data were collected to assess implementation of the KT strategies relative to fidelity, feasibility, and acceptability.
Results: Findings from 35 structured observations and 15 interviews with 96 intervention participants suggest that all of the KT strategies were consistently implemented. Of the 220 staff working in the department, that is, nurses, anesthetists, and surgeons, 160 (72.7%) knew about the PTB strategies. Qualitative analysis revealed that implementation was generally feasible and acceptable. A barrier to feasibility was physician engagement. An impediment to acceptability was participants’ skepticism about the ability of the KT strategies to effect behavioral change.
Conclusion: Overall, results of this evaluation suggest that success of implementation was moderate. Given the probable impact of contextual factors, that is, team culture and the characteristics of participants, the KT strategies may need modification prior to widespread implementation.

Keywords: implementation, complex intervention, patient safety, process evaluation, research methods, logic model, surgery

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