Sustainment, Sustainability, and Spread Study (SSaSSy): protocol for a study of factors that contribute to the sustainment, sustainability, and spread of practice changes introduced through an evidence-based quality-improvement intervention in Canadian nursing homes

Abstract Background Implementation scientists and practitioners, alike, recognize the importance of sustaining practice change, however post-implementation studies of interventions are rare. This is a protocol for the Sustainment, Sustainability and Spread Study (SSaSSy). The purpose of this study is to contribute to knowledge on the sustainment (sustained use), sustainability (sustained benefits), and spread of evidence-based practice innovations in health care. Specifically, this is a post-implementation study of an evidence-informed, Care Aide-led, facilitation-based quality-improvement intervention called SCOPE (Safer Care for Older Persons (in long-term care) Environments). SCOPE has been implemented in nursing homes in the Canadian Provinces of Manitoba (MB), Alberta (AB) and British Columbia (BC). Our study has three aims: (i) to determine the role that adaptation/contextualization plays in sustainment, sustainability and spread of the SCOPE intervention; (ii) to study the relative effects on sustainment, sustainability and intra-organizational spread of high-intensity and low-intensity post-implementation “boosters”, and a “no booster” condition, and (iii) to compare the relative costs and impacts of each booster condition. Methods/design SSaSSy is a two-phase mixed methods study. The overarching design is convergent, with qualitative and quantitative data collected over a similar timeframe in each of the two phases, analyzed independently, then merged for analysis and interpretation. Phase 1 is a pilot involving up to 7 units in 7 MB nursing homes in which SCOPE was piloted in 2016 to 2017, in preparation for phase 2. Phase 2 will comprise a quasi-experiment with two treatment groups of low- and high-intensity post-implementation “boosters”, and an untreated control group (no booster), using pretests and post-tests of the dependent variables relating to sustained care and management practices, and resident outcomes. Phase 2 will involve 31 trial sites in BC (17 units) and AB (14 units) nursing homes, where the SCOPE trial concluded in May 2019. Discussion This project stands to advance understanding of the factors that influence the sustainment of practice changes introduced through evidence-informed practice change interventions, and their associated sustainability. Findings will inform our understanding of the nature of the relationship of fidelity and adaptation to sustainment and sustainability, and afford insights into factors that influence the intra-organizational spread of practice changes introduced through complex interventions.
Implementation Science. 2019 Dec 19;14(1):109