Implementing a complex intervention to support personal recovery: a qualitative study nested within a cluster randomised controlled trial.

29 May 2014
Leamy M, Clarke E, Le Boutillier C, Bird V, Janosik M, Sabas K, Riley G, Williams J, Slade M

Objective: To investigate staff and trainer perspectives on the barriers and facilitators to implementing a complex intervention to help staff support the recovery of service users with a primary diagnosis of psychosis in community mental health teams.

Design: Process evaluation nested within a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT).
Participants: 28 interviews with mental health care staff, 3 interviews with trainers, 4 focus groups with intervention teams and 28 written trainer reports.

Setting: 14 community-based mental health teams in two UK sites (one urban, one semi-rural) who received the intervention.

Results: The factors influencing the implementation of the intervention can be organised under two over-arching themes: Organisational readiness for change and Training effectiveness. Organisational readiness for change comprised three sub- themes: NHS Trust readiness; Team readiness; and Practitioner readiness. Training effectiveness comprised three sub- themes: Engagement strategies; Delivery style and Modelling recovery principles.

Conclusions: Three findings can inform future implementation and evaluation of complex interventions. First, the underlying intervention model predicted that three areas would be important for changing practice: staff skill development; intention to implement; and actual implementation behaviour. This study highlighted the importance of targeting the transition from practitioners’ intent to implement to actual implementation behaviour, using experiential learning and target setting. Second, practitioners make inferences about organisational commitment by observing the allocation of resources, Knowledge Performance Indicators and service evaluation outcome measures. These need to be aligned with recovery values, principles and practice. Finally, we recommend the use of organisational readiness tools as an inclusion criteria for selecting both organisations and teams in cluster RCTs. We believe this would maximise the likelihood of adequate implementation and hence reduce waste in research expenditure.