Background: We developed and evaluated a tailored programme to implement three evidence-based recommendations for multimorbid patients with polypharmacy into primary care practices: structured medication counselling including brown bag reviews, the use of medication lists and medication reviews. No effect on the primary outcome was found. This process evaluation aimed to identify factors associated with outcomes by exploring nine hypotheses specified in the logic model of the tailored programme.
Methods: The tailored programme was developed with respect to identified determinants of practice and consisted of a workshop for practice teams, elaboration of implementation action plans, aids for medication reviews, a multilingual info-tool for patients on a tablet PC, posters and brown paper bags as reminders for patients. The tailored programme was evaluated in a cluster randomized trial. The process evaluation was based on various data sources: interviews with general practitioners and medical assistants of the intervention group and a survey with general practitioners of the intervention and control group, written reports on the implementation action plans, documentation forms for structured medication counselling and the log file of the info-tool.
Results: We analyzed 12 interviews, 21 questionnaires, 120 documentation forms for medication counselling, 5 implementation action plans and one log file of the info-tool. The most frequently reported effect of the tailored programme was the increase of awareness for the health problem and the recommendations, while implementation of routine processes was only reported for structured medication counselling. The survey largely confirmed the usefulness of the applied strategies, yet the interviews provided a more detailed understanding of the actual use of the strategies and several suggestions for modifications of the tailored programme.
Conclusions: The tailored programme seemed to have induced awareness as a first step of behaviour change. Several modifications of the tailored programme may enhance its effectiveness such as conducting outreach visits instead of a workshop, improved targeting, provision of evidence, integration of tools into the practice software and information materials in tailored formats.
Trial registration: This study is linked to an outcome evaluation study with the registration ISRCTN34664024 , assigned 14/08/2013.
Keywords: Brown bag review; Communication; Implementation; Medication list; Polypharmacy; Primary care; Process evaluation.