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Provider perspectives of implementation of an evidence-based insomnia treatment in Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care: barriers, existing strategies, and future directions.

Koffel E, Hagedorn H. Provider perspectives of implementation of an evidence-based insomnia treatment in Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care: barriers, existing strategies, and future directions. Implementation science communications. 2020 Nov 30; 1(1):107.

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BACKGROUND: Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a highly effective nonpharmacological intervention that is widely considered the gold standard for insomnia treatment. Insomnia is a prevalent and debilitating public health concern. Up to one third of the general population struggles with chronic insomnia, greatly increasing the risk for chronic pain and inflammation, depression and suicide, and cognitive decline. Over the last 10 years, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) evidence-based psychotherapy training program has trained nearly 1000 providers to deliver CBT-I in hospitals and clinics nationwide. Despite increased access, most patients with insomnia receive sleeping medications instead of CBT-I. This is particularly concerning for vulnerable populations, like older adults, who may be at increased risk of harms from medications. The goal of this study was to obtain a broad range of perspectives on CBT-I implementation from providers who commonly utilize and deliver CBT-I. This work identifies barriers and successful strategies used to overcome these barriers to guide future implementation efforts promoting evidence-based sleep care. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews, using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) as a guide, were conducted with 17 providers from five Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities (8 primary care physicians, 4 primary care psychologists, and 5 CBT-I coordinators). We used a thematic analysis approach in which common ideas were identified across interviews and then grouped into larger conceptual themes. Data were concurrently collected and analyzed with rapid assessment process (RAP) techniques. RESULTS: Findings suggested implementation barriers and facilitators related to the CFIR constructs of intervention characteristic (e.g., providers unfamiliar with primary evidence of CBT-I effectiveness), inner setting (e.g., sleep as a low relative priority in primary care), and outer setting (e.g., lack of external incentives for increasing CBT-I use), as well as several successful strategies, including use of local champions and supportive opinion leaders. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest promising opportunities to improve implementation of CBT-I, especially at facilities with less well-established CBT-I programs. Formal implementation trials are needed to systematically determine the real-world impact of strategies such as enlisting CBT-I champions, informing opinion leaders about CBT-I services, and promoting network weaving among primary care, mental health, and sleep clinics.

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