Objective: Stroke survivors are at high risk of stroke recurrence yet current strategies to reduce recurrence risk are sub-optimal. The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) have proposed a framework for developing and evaluating complex interventions, such as community management of stroke secondary prevention. The Framework outlines a five-phased approach from theory through to implementation of effective interventions. This paper reports Phases I-III of the development of a novel intervention to improve risk factor management after stroke.
Methods: The pre-clinical/theoretical phase entailed reviewing the literature and undertaking quantitative and qualitative studies to identify current practices and barriers to secondary prevention. In Phase I (modelling), findings were used to design an intervention with the potential to overcome barriers to effective stroke secondary prevention management. The feasibility of delivering the intervention and its acceptability were tested in the Phase II exploratory trial involving 25 stroke survivors and their general practitioners.
Results: This led to the development of the definitive risk factor management intervention. This comprises multiple components and involves using an on-going population stroke register to target patients, carers and health care professionals with tailored secondary prevention advice. Clinical, socio-demographic and service use data collected by the stroke register are transformed to provide an individualised secondary prevention package for patients, carers and health care professionals at three time points: within 10 weeks, 3 and 6 months post-stroke.
Conclusion: The intervention is currently being evaluated in a randomised controlled trial. Further research is needed to test generalisability to other aspects of stroke management and for other chronic diseases.
Practice implications: The MRC Framework for complex interventions provides a structured approach to guide the development of novel interventions in public health. Implications for practice in stroke secondary prevention will emerge when the results of our randomised controlled trial are published.