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Protocol for evaluating the nationwide implementation of the VA Stratification Tool for Opioid Risk Management (STORM).

Chinman M, Gellad WF, McCarthy S, Gordon AJ, Rogal S, Mor MK, Hausmann LRM. Protocol for evaluating the nationwide implementation of the VA Stratification Tool for Opioid Risk Management (STORM). Implementation science : IS. 2019 Jan 18; 14(1):5.

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BACKGROUND: Mitigating the risks of adverse outcomes from opioids is critical. Thus, the Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System developed the Stratification Tool for Opioid Risk Management (STORM), a dashboard to assist clinicians with opioid risk evaluation and mitigation. Updated daily, STORM calculates a "risk score" of adverse outcomes (e.g., suicide-related events, overdoses, overdose death) from variables in the VA medical record for all patients with an opioid prescription and displays this information along with documentation of recommended risk mitigation strategies and non-opioid pain treatments. In March 2018, the VA issued a policy notice requiring VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) to complete case reviews for patients whom STORM identifies as very high-risk (i.e., top 1% of STORM risk scores). Half of VAMCs were randomly assigned notices that also stated that additional support and oversight would be required for VAMCs that failed to meet an established percentage of case reviews. Using a stepped-wedge cluster randomized design, VAMCs will be further randomized to conduct case reviews for an expanded pool of patients (top 5% of STORM risk scores vs. 1%) starting either 9 or 15 months after the notice was released, creating four natural arms. VA commissioned an evaluation to understand the implementation strategies and factors associated with case review completion rates, whose protocol is described in this report. METHODS: This mixed-method study will include an online survey of all VAMCs to identify implementation strategies and interviews at a subset of facilities to identify implementation barriers and facilitators. The survey is based on the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC) project, which engaged experts to create consensus on 73 implementation strategies. We will use regression models to compare the number and types of implementation strategies across arms and their association with case review completion rates. Using questions from the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research, we will interview stakeholders at 40 VAMCs with the highest and lowest adherence to opioid therapy guidelines. DISCUSSION: By identifying which implementation strategies, barriers, and facilitators influence case reviews to reduce opioid-related adverse outcomes, this unique implementation evaluation will enable the VA to improve the design of future opioid safety initiatives. TRIAL REGISTRATION: This project is registered at the ISRCTN Registry with number ISRCTN16012111 . The trial was first registered on 5/3/2017.

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