Implementation strategies for large scale quality improvement initiatives in primary care settings: a qualitative assessment

BMC Prim Care. 2023 Nov 17;24(1):242. doi: 10.1186/s12875-023-02200-8.


Background and objectives: The EvidenceNOW: Advancing Heart Health in Primary Care was designed to assist primary care practices in the US in implementing evidence-based practices in cardiovascular care and building capacity for quality improvement. EvidenceNOW, NCT03054090, was registered with on 15/02/2017. The goals of this study were to gain a comprehensive understanding of perspectives from research participants and research team members on the value of implementation strategies and factors that influenced the EvidenceNOW initiative in Virginia.

Methods: In 2018, we conducted 25 focus groups with clinicians and staff at participating practices, including 80 physicians, advanced practice clinicians, practice managers and other practice staff. We also conducted face-to-face and telephone interviews with 22 research team members, including lead investigators, practice facilitators, physician expert consultants, and evaluators. We used the integrated-Promoting Action on Research Implementation in the Health Services (i-PARIHS) framework in our qualitative data analysis and organization of themes.

Results: Implementation strategies valued by both practice representatives and research team members included the kick-off event, on-site practice facilitation, and interaction with physician expert consultants. Remote practice facilitation and web-based tools were used less frequently. Contextual factors that influence quality improvement efforts include leadership support, access to resources, previous quality improvement experience, and practice ownership type (independent compared to health system owned). Many clinicians and staff were overwhelmed by day-to-day activities and experience initiative fatigue, which hindered their ability to fully participate in the EvidenceNOW initiative.

Conclusions: This study provides details on how the practice environment plays an essential role in the implementation of evidence-based practices in primary care. Future efforts to improve quality in primary care practices should consider the context and environment of individual practices, with targeted implementation strategies to meet the needs of independent and health system owned practices. Future efforts to improve quality in primary care practices require strategies to address initiative fatigue among clinicians and practice staff. External support for building capacity for quality improvement could help primary care practices implement and sustain evidence-based practices and improve quality of care.

Trial registration: This project was registered with on 15/02/2017 and the identifier is NCT03054090.

Keywords: Evidence-based practice; qualitative research; Implementation; Primary care; Quality improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Humans
  • Physicians*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Research Design

Associated data