Study protocol for the translating research in elder care (TREC): building context - an organizational monitoring program in long-term care project (project one)

Implement Sci. 2009 Aug 11:4:52. doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-4-52.


Background: While there is a growing awareness of the importance of organizational context (or the work environment/setting) to successful knowledge translation, and successful knowledge translation to better patient, provider (staff), and system outcomes, little empirical evidence supports these assumptions. Further, little is known about the factors that enhance knowledge translation and better outcomes in residential long-term care facilities, where care has been shown to be suboptimal. The project described in this protocol is one of the two main projects of the larger five-year Translating Research in Elder Care (TREC) program.

Aims: The purpose of this project is to establish the magnitude of the effect of organizational context on knowledge translation, and subsequently on resident, staff (unregulated, regulated, and managerial) and system outcomes in long-term care facilities in the three Canadian Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba).

Methods/design: This study protocol describes the details of a multi-level - including provinces, regions, facilities, units within facilities, and individuals who receive care (residents) or work (staff) in facilities - and longitudinal (five-year) research project. A stratified random sample of 36 residential long-term care facilities (30 urban and 6 rural) from the Canadian Prairie Provinces will comprise the sample. Caregivers and care managers within these facilities will be asked to complete the TREC survey - a suite of survey instruments designed to assess organizational context and related factors hypothesized to be important to successful knowledge translation and to achieving better resident, staff, and system outcomes. Facility and unit level data will be collected using standardized data collection forms, and resident outcomes using the Resident Assessment Instrument-Minimum Data Set version 2.0 instrument. A variety of analytic techniques will be employed including descriptive analyses, psychometric analyses, multi-level modeling, and mixed-method analyses.

Discussion: Three key challenging areas associated with conducting this project are discussed: sampling, participant recruitment, and sample retention; survey administration (with unregulated caregivers); and the provision of a stable set of study definitions to guide the project.