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Selecting intervention content to target barriers and enablers of recognition and response to deteriorating patients: an online nominal group study

Smith, D. ORCID: 0000-0003-4290-8423, Cartwright, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-3404-5659, Dyson, J. , Hartin, J. & Aitken, L. M. ORCID: 0000-0001-5722-9090 (2022). Selecting intervention content to target barriers and enablers of recognition and response to deteriorating patients: an online nominal group study. BMC Health Services Research, 22(1), 766. doi: 10.1186/s12913-022-08128-6


BACKGROUND: Patients who deteriorate in hospital wards without appropriate recognition and/or response are at risk of increased morbidity and mortality. Track-and-trigger tools have been implemented internationally prompting healthcare practitioners (typically nursing staff) to recognise physiological changes (e.g. changes in blood pressure, heart rate) consistent with patient deterioration, and then to contact a practitioner with expertise in management of acute/critical illness. Despite some evidence these tools improve patient outcomes, their translation into clinical practice is inconsistent internationally. To drive greater guideline adherence in the use of the National Early Warning Score tool (a track-and-trigger tool used widely in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe), a theoretically informed implementation intervention was developed (targeting nursing staff) using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) version 2 and a taxonomy of Behaviour Change Techniques (BCTs).

METHODS: A three-stage process was followed: 1. TDF domains representing important barriers and enablers to target behaviours derived from earlier published empirical work were mapped to appropriate BCTs; 2. BCTs were shortlisted using consensus approaches within the research team; 3. shortlisted BCTs were presented to relevant stakeholders in two online group discussions where nominal group techniques were applied. Nominal group participants were healthcare leaders, senior clinicians, and ward-based nursing staff. Stakeholders individually generated concrete strategies for operationalising shortlisted BCTs ('applications') and privately ranked them according to acceptability and feasibility. Ranking data were used to drive decision-making about intervention content.

RESULTS: Fifty BCTs (mapped in stage 1) were shortlisted to 14 (stage 2) and presented to stakeholders in nominal groups (stage 3) alongside example applications. Informed by ranking data from nominal groups, the intervention was populated with 12 BCTs that will be delivered face-to-face, to individuals and groups of nursing staff, through 18 applications.

CONCLUSIONS: A description of a theory-based behaviour change intervention is reported, populated with BCTs and applications generated and/or prioritised by stakeholders using replicable consensus methods. The feasibility of the proposed intervention should be tested in a clinical setting and the content of the intervention elaborated further to permit replication and evaluation.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Clinical deterioration, Critical care, Vital signs, Behavioural research, Group processes, Consensus, Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
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