Mechanisms of action of an implementation intervention in stroke rehabilitation: a qualitative interview study Connell, Louise A; McMahon, Naoimh E; Tyson, Sarah F; Watkins, Caroline L; Eng, Janice
Background: Despite best evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of increased intensity of exercise after stroke, current levels of therapy continue to be below those required to optimise motor recovery. We developed and tested an implementation intervention that aims to increase arm exercise in stroke rehabilitation. The aim of this study was to illustrate the use of a behaviour change framework, the Behaviour Change Wheel, to identify the mechanisms of action that explain how the intervention produced change. Methods We implemented the intervention at three stroke rehabilitation units in the United Kingdom. A purposive sample of therapy team members were recruited to participate in semi-structured interviews to explore their perceptions of how the intervention produced change at their work place. Audio recordings were transcribed and imported into NVivo 10 for content analysis. Two coders separately analysed the transcripts and coded emergent mechanisms. Mechanisms were categorised using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) (an extension of the Capability, Opportunity, Motivation and Behaviour model (COM-B) at the hub of the Behaviour Change Wheel). Results We identified five main mechanisms of action: ‘social/professional role and identity’, ‘intentions’, ‘reinforcement’, ‘behavioural regulation’ and ‘beliefs about consequences’. At the outset, participants viewed the research team as an external influence for whom they endeavoured to complete the study activities. The study design, with a focus on implementation in real world settings, influenced participants’ intentions to implement the intervention components. Monthly meetings between the research and therapy teams were central to the intervention and acted as prompt or reminder to sustain implementation. The phased approach to introducing and implementing intervention components influenced participants’ beliefs about the feasibility of implementation. Conclusions The Behaviour Change Wheel, and in particular the Theoretical Domains Framework, were used to investigate mechanisms of action of an implementation intervention. This approach allowed for consideration of a range of possible mechanisms, and allowed us to categorise these mechanisms using an established behaviour change framework. Identification of the mechanisms of action, following testing of the intervention in a number of settings, has resulted in a refined and more robust intervention programme theory for future testing.
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