The many organisational factors relevant to planning change in emergency care departments: A qualitative study to inform a cluster randomised controlled trial aiming to improve the management of patients with mild traumatic brain injuries

Marije Bosch, Emma J. Tavender, Sue E. Brennan, Jonathan Knott, Russell L. Gruen, Sally E. Green

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The Neurotrauma Evidence Translation (NET) Trial aims to design and evaluate the effectiveness of a targeted theory-and evidence-informed intervention to increase the uptake of evidence-based recommended practices for the management of patients who present to an emergency department (ED) with mild head injuries. When designing interventions to bring about change in organisational settings such as the ED, it is important to understand the impact of the context to ensure successful implementation of practice change. Few studies explicitly use organisational theory to study which factors are likely to be most important to address when planning change processes in the ED. Yet, this setting may have a unique set of organisational pressures that need to be taken into account when implementing new clinical practices. This paper aims to provide an in depth analysis of the organisational context in which ED management of mild head injuries and implementation of new practices occurs, drawing upon organisational level theory. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ED staff in Australia. The interviews explored the organisational context in relation to change and organisational factors influencing the management of patients presenting with mild head injuries. Two researchers coded the interview transcripts using thematic content analysis. The "model of diffusion in service organisations" was used to guide analyses and organisation of the results. Results: Nine directors, 20 doctors and 13 nurses of 13 hospitals were interviewed.With regard to characteristics of the innovation (i.e. the recommended practices) the most important factor was whether they were perceived as being in line with values and needs. Tension for change (the degree to which stakeholders perceive the current situation as intolerable or needing change) was relatively low for managing acute mild head injury symptoms, and mixed for managing longer-term symptoms (higher change commitment, but relatively low change efficacy). Regarding implementation processes, the importance of (visible) senior leadership for all professions involved was identified as a critical factor. An unpredictable and hectic environment brings challenges in creating an environment in which team-based and organisational learning can thrive (system antecedents for innovation). In addition, the position of the ED as the entry-point of the hospital points to the relevance of securing buy-in from other units. Conclusions: We identified several organisational factors relevant to realising change in ED management of patients who present with mild head injuries. These factors will inform the intervention design and process evaluation in a trial evaluating the effectiveness of our implementation intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0148091
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

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