A pragmatic context assessment tool (pCAT): using a Think Aloud method to develop an assessment of contextual barriers to change

Implement Sci Commun. 2023 Jan 11;4(1):3. doi: 10.1186/s43058-022-00380-5.


Background: The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) is a determinant framework that can be used to guide context assessment prior to implementing change. Though a few quantitative measurement instruments have been developed based on the CFIR, most assessments using the CFIR have relied on qualitative methods. One challenge to measurement is to translate conceptual constructs which are often described using highly abstract, technical language into lay language that is clear, concise, and meaningful. The purpose of this paper is to document methods to develop a freely available pragmatic context assessment tool (pCAT). The pCAT is based on the CFIR and designed for frontline quality improvement teams as an abbreviated assessment of local facilitators and barriers in a clinical setting.

Methods: Twenty-seven interviews using the Think Aloud method (asking participants to verbalize thoughts as they respond to assessment questions) were conducted with frontline employees to improve a pilot version of the pCAT. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim; the CFIR guided coding and analyses.

Results: Participants identified several areas where language in the pCAT needed to be modified, clarified, or allow more nuance to increase usefulness for frontline employees. Participants found it easier to respond to questions when they had a recent, specific project in mind. Potential barriers and facilitators tend to be unique to each specific improvement. Participants also identified missing concepts or that were conflated, leading to refinements that made the pCAT more understandable, accurate, and useful.

Conclusions: The pCAT is designed to be practical, using everyday language familiar to frontline employees. The pCAT is short (14 items), freely available, does not require research expertise or experience. It is designed to draw on the knowledge of individuals most familiar with their own clinical context. The pCAT has been available online for approximately two years and has generated a relatively high level of interest indicating potential usefulness of the tool.

Keywords: Implementation; Implementation science; Qualitative; Quality improvement; Think Aloud.