Background: Identifying, developing, and testing implementation strategies are important goals of implementation science. However, these efforts have been complicated by the use of inconsistent language and inadequate descriptions of implementation strategies in the literature. The Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC) study aimed to refine a published compilation of implementation strategy terms and definitions by systematically gathering input from a wide range of stakeholders with expertise in implementation science and clinical practice.
Methods: Purposive sampling was used to recruit a panel of experts in implementation and clinical practice who engaged in three rounds of a modified Delphi process to generate consensus on implementation strategies and definitions. The first and second rounds involved Web-based surveys soliciting comments on implementation strategy terms and definitions. After each round, iterative refinements were made based upon participant feedback. The third round involved a live polling and consensus process via a Web-based platform and conference call.
Results: Participants identified substantial concerns with 31% of the terms and/or definitions and suggested five additional strategies. Seventy-five percent of definitions from the originally published compilation of strategies were retained after voting. Ultimately, the expert panel reached consensus on a final compilation of 73 implementation strategies.
Conclusions: This research advances the field by improving the conceptual clarity, relevance, and comprehensiveness of implementation strategies that can be used in isolation or combination in implementation research and practice. Future phases of ERIC will focus on developing conceptually distinct categories of strategies as well as ratings for each strategy's importance and feasibility. Next, the expert panel will recommend multifaceted strategies for hypothetical yet real-world scenarios that vary by sites' endorsement of evidence-based programs and practices and the strength of contextual supports that surround the effort.