Sustained effects of the INFORM cluster randomized trial: an observational post-intervention study

Implement Sci. 2021 Aug 23;16(1):83. doi: 10.1186/s13012-021-01151-x.


Background: Numerous studies have examined the efficacy and effectiveness of health services interventions. However, much less research is available on the sustainability of study outcomes. The purpose of this study was to assess the lasting benefits of INFORM (Improving Nursing Home Care Through Feedback On perfoRMance data) and associated factors 2.5 years after removal of study supports. INFORM was a complex, theory-based, three-arm, parallel cluster-randomized trial. In 2015-2016, we successfully implemented two theory-based feedback strategies (compared to a simple feedback approach) to increase nursing home (NH) care aides' involvement in formal communications about resident care.

Methods: Sustainability analyses included 51 Western Canadian NHs that had been randomly allocated to a simple and two assisted feedback interventions in INFORM. We measured care aide involvement in formal interactions (e.g., resident rounds, family conferences) and other study outcomes at baseline (T1, 09/2014-05/2015), post-intervention (T2, 01/2017-12/2017), and long-term follow-up (T3, 06/2019-03/2020). Using repeated measures, hierarchical mixed models, adjusted for care aide, care unit, and facility variables, we assess sustainability and associated factors: organizational context (leadership, culture, evaluation) and fidelity of the original INFORM intervention.

Results: We analyzed data from 18 NHs (46 units, 529 care aides) in simple feedback, 19 NHs (60 units, 731 care aides) in basic assisted feedback, and 14 homes (41 units, 537 care aides) in enhanced assisted feedback. T2 (post-intervention) scores remained stable at T3 in the two enhanced feedback arms, indicating sustainability. In the simple feedback group, where scores were had remained lower than in the enhanced groups during the intervention, T3 scores rose to the level of the two enhanced feedback groups. Better culture (β = 0.099, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.005; 0.192), evaluation (β = 0.273, 95% CI 0.196; 0.351), and fidelity enactment (β = 0.290, 95% CI 0.196; 0.384) increased care aide involvement in formal interactions at T3.

Conclusions: Theory-informed feedback provides long-lasting improvement in care aides' involvement in formal communications about resident care. Greater intervention intensity neither implies greater effectiveness nor sustainability. Modifiable context elements and fidelity enactment during the intervention period may facilitate sustained improvement, warranting further study-as does possible post-intervention spread of our intervention to simple feedback homes.