Delivering diabetes shared medical appointments in primary care: early and mid-program adaptations and implications for successful implementation

BMC Prim Care. 2023 Feb 17;24(1):52. doi: 10.1186/s12875-023-02006-8.


Background: Self-management is essential for good outcomes in type 2 diabetes and patients often benefit from self-management education. Shared medical appointments (SMAs) can increase self-efficacy for self management but are difficult for some primary care practices to implement. Understanding how practices adapt processes and delivery of SMAs for patients with type 2 diabetes may provide helpful strategies for other practices interested in implementing SMAs.

Methods: The Invested in Diabetes study was a pragmatic cluster-randomized, comparative effectiveness trial designed to compare two different models of diabetes SMAs delivered in primary care. We used a multi-method approach guided by the FRAME to assess practices' experience with implementation, including any planned and unplanned adaptations. Data sources included interviews, practice observations and field notes from practice facilitator check-ins.

Results: Several findings were identified from the data: 1) Modifications and adaptations are common in implementation of SMAs, 2) while most adaptations were fidelity-consistent supporting the core components of the intervention conditions as designed, some were not, 3) Adaptations were perceived to be necessary to help SMAs meet patient and practice needs and overcome implementation challenges, and 4) Content changes in the sessions were often planned and enacted to better address the contextual circumstances such as patient needs and culture.

Discussion: Implementing SMAs in primary care can be challenging and adaptations of both implementation processes and content and delivery of SMAS for patients with type 2 diabetes were common in the Invested in Diabetes study. Recognizing the need for adaptations based on practice context prior to implementation may help improve fit and success with SMAs, but care needs to be given to ensure that adaptations do not weaken the impact of the intervention. Practices may be able to assess what might need to adapted for them to be successful prior to implementation but likely will continue to adapt after implementation.

Conclusion: Adaptations were common in the Invested in Diabetes study. Practices may benefit from understanding common challenges in implementing SMAs and adapting processes and delivery based on their own context.

Trial registration: This trial is registered on under Trial number NCT03590041, posted 18/07/2018.

Keywords: Adaptations; DSMES; Diabetes; Implementation fidelity; Qualitative; Shared Medical Appointments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Self-Management*
  • Shared Medical Appointments*

Associated data