Supervision training interventions in the health and human services: Realist synthesis protocol

Sarah Lee, Charlotte Denniston, Vicki Edouard, Claire Palermo, Kirsty Pope, Keith Sutton, Susan Waller, Bernadette Ward, Charlotte Rees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Supervision training aims to develop workplace supervisory competencies. Despite extensive supervision literature, including literature reviews, the processes through which supervision training interventions produce their effects, for whom and under what circumstances is not clearly delineated. The purpose of this study is to explain the effect of contextual factors on the underpinning mechanisms of supervision training outcomes. Methods and analysis We propose to examine supervision training interventions across the health and human services workforce using realist methods. Pawson's five stages for undertaking a realist synthesis will be followed: (1) clarifying the scope of the review; (2) determining the search strategy; (3) study selection; (4) extracting data and (5) synthesising the evidence and drawing conclusions. Extracted data will include study characteristics, characteristics of participant cohort, intervention type, contextual factors, underlying mechanisms and supervision training outcomes. Patterns in context-mechanism-outcome configurations will be identified. Initial programme theories will be developed based on a comprehensive search of the literature, which will include key terms relating to supervision and training. The search strategy will involve: (1) electronic database searching using Medline, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Social Services Abstracts, Educational Resources Information Center, PsycINFO and Australian Public Affairs Information Service and (2) hand and citation searching. We will also contact authors where necessary and discuss identified literature among the project team with extensive expertise in supervision training. Ethics and dissemination The realist synthesis will propose an evidence-informed theory of supervision training interventions (ie, what interventions work for whom and why). The findings will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and presentations and through discussions with relevant organisations and stakeholders. The research will be used by educators to develop evidenced-based supervision training interventions. It will also help workplace supervisors to better understand what types of supervision training might work most optimally for them and their colleagues. Other researchers could use the synthesis findings to guide future supervision research.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere025777
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • education
  • realist synthesis
  • supervision
  • training

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