Purpose/objectives: To describe the process used in proposal development and study implementation for a complex multisite project on cancer treatment-related fatigue (CRF), identify strategies used to manage the project, and provide recommendations for teams planning multisite research.
Data sources: Information derived from project team meeting records, correspondence, proposals, and personal recollection.
Data synthesis: The project was built on preexisting relationships among the three site investigators who then built a team including faculty, research coordinators, staff nurses, and students. Study sites had a range of organizational models, and the proposal was designed to capitalize on the organizational and resource strengths of each setting. Three team members drawn from outside oncology nursing provided expertise in measurement and experience with fatigue in other populations. Planning meetings were critical to the success of the project. Conference calls, fax technology, and electronic mail were used for communication. Flexibility was important in managing crises and shifting responsibility for specific components of the work. The team documented and evaluated the process used for multisite research, completed a major instrumentation study, and developed a cognitive-behavioral intervention for CRF.
Conclusions: Accomplishments during the one-year planning grant exceeded initial expectations. The process of conducting multisite research is complex, especially when the starting point is a planning grant with specific research protocols to be developed and implemented over one year. Explicit planning for decision-making processes to be used throughout the project, acknowledging the differences among the study settings and planning the protocols to capitalize upon those differences, and recruiting a strong research team that included a member with planning grant and team-building expertise were essential elements for success.
Implications for nursing practice: Specific recommendations for others planning multisite research are related to team-building, team membership, communication, behavioral norms, role flexibility, resources, feedback, problem management, and shared recognition.