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Implement Sci. 2014 Mar 26;9:39. doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-9-39.

Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC): protocol for a mixed methods study.

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  • 1Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 2200 Fort Roots Drive (152/NLR), Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, HSR&D and Mental Health Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI), Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.



Identifying feasible and effective implementation strategies that are contextually appropriate is a challenge for researchers and implementers, exacerbated by the lack of conceptual clarity surrounding terms and definitions for implementation strategies, as well as a literature that provides imperfect guidance regarding how one might select strategies for a given healthcare quality improvement effort. In this study, we will engage an Expert Panel comprising implementation scientists and mental health clinical managers to: establish consensus on a common nomenclature for implementation strategy terms, definitions and categories; and develop recommendations to enhance the match between implementation strategies selected to facilitate the use of evidence-based programs and the context of certain service settings, in this case the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health services.


This study will use purposive sampling to recruit an Expert Panel comprising implementation science experts and VA mental health clinical managers. A novel, four-stage sequential mixed methods design will be employed. During Stage 1, the Expert Panel will participate in a modified Delphi process in which a published taxonomy of implementation strategies will be used to establish consensus on terms and definitions for implementation strategies. In Stage 2, the panelists will complete a concept mapping task, which will yield conceptually distinct categories of implementation strategies as well as ratings of the feasibility and effectiveness of each strategy. Utilizing the common nomenclature developed in Stages 1 and 2, panelists will complete an innovative menu-based choice task in Stage 3 that involves matching implementation strategies to hypothetical implementation scenarios with varying contexts. This allows for quantitative characterizations of the relative necessity of each implementation strategy for a given scenario. In Stage 4, a live web-based facilitated expert recommendation process will be employed to establish expert recommendations about which implementations strategies are essential for each phase of implementation in each scenario.


Using a novel method of selecting implementation strategies for use within specific contexts, this study contributes to our understanding of implementation science and practice by sharpening conceptual distinctions among a comprehensive collection of implementation strategies.

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