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Communication strategies to facilitate the implementation of new clinical practices: a qualitative study of community mental health therapists.

Albright K, Navarro EI, Jarad I, Boyd MR, Powell BJ, Lewis CC. Communication strategies to facilitate the implementation of new clinical practices: a qualitative study of community mental health therapists. Translational behavioral medicine. 2022 Feb 16; 12(2):324-334.

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Although communication is widely observed to be central to the implementation process, the field of implementation science has largely overlooked the details of how communication may best be utilized to facilitate implementation. This paper draws on relevant insights from Rogers'' Diffusion of Innovations Theory, which laid the foundation for explicitly attending to the role of communication as a mechanism for implementation strategies to exert their effects. To offer empirically-derived and theory-informed recommendations regarding communication processes to support the effective introduction of new clinical practices. This investigation leverages data from 61 therapists poised to undergo implementation of measurement-based care (MBC) for depressed adults receiving psychotherapy in community mental health settings. Data were collected via focus groups across 12 sites. Themes emergent in the data analysis suggest five practices to facilitate effective communication in the introduction of new clinical practices like MBC: the communication of a clear rationale for the new practice; the provision of necessary procedural knowledge; communication about the change via multiple methods; sufficient lead time to prepare for the change; and the opportunity for bidirectional engagement. In addition to indicating several best practices to improve communication prior to implementation, our results suggest that the current conceptualization of implementation strategies may not yet be complete. Components and/or methods of effective communication about new practices should be included among the growing set of implementation strategies. Existing implementation strategies might also benefit from more temporal specificity, with more attention to the exploration and preparation phases. (Trial Registration: NCT02266134. Registered 12 October 2014.).

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