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Identifying core strategies and mechanisms for spreading a national medicines optimisation programme across England-a mixed-method study applying qualitative thematic analysis and Qualitative Comparative Analysis

Ziemann, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-5996-8484, Sibley, A., Tuvey, S. , Robens, S. & Scarbrough, H. ORCID: 0000-0002-3820-8339 (2022). Identifying core strategies and mechanisms for spreading a national medicines optimisation programme across England-a mixed-method study applying qualitative thematic analysis and Qualitative Comparative Analysis. Implementation Science Communications, 3, 116. doi: 10.1186/s43058-022-00364-5


BACKGROUND: Achieving widespread adoption of innovations across health systems remains a challenge. Past efforts have focused on identifying and classifying strategies to actively support innovation spread (replicating an innovation across sites), but we lack an understanding about the mechanisms which such strategies draw on to deliver successful spread outcomes. There is also no established methodology to identify core strategies or mechanisms which could be replicated with fidelity in new contexts when spreading innovations. We aimed to understand which strategies and mechanisms are connected with successful spread using the case of a national medicines optimisation programme in England.

METHODS: The study applied a comparative mixed-method case study approach. We compared spread activity in 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSN) in England, applied to one innovation case, Transfers of Care Around Medicines (TCAM). We followed two methodological steps: (1) qualitative thematic analysis of primary data collected from 18 interviews with AHSN staff members to identify the strategies and mechanisms and related contextual determinants and (2) Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) combining secondary quantitative data on spread outcome and qualitative themes from step 1 to identify the core strategies and mechanisms.

RESULTS: We identified six common spread strategy-mechanism constructs that AHSNs applied to spread the TCAM national spread programme: (1) the unique intermediary position of the AHSN as "honest broker" and local networking organisation, (2) the right capacity and position of the spread facilitator, (3) an intersectoral and integrated stakeholder engagement approach, (4) the dynamic marriage of the innovation with local health and care system needs and characteristics, (5) the generation of local evidence, and (6) the timing of TCAM. The QCA resulted in the core strategy/mechanism of a timely start into the national spread programme in combination with the employment of a local, senior pharmacist as an AHSN spread facilitator.

CONCLUSIONS: By qualitatively comparing experiences of spreading one innovation across different contexts, we identified common strategies, causal mechanisms, and contextual determinants. The QCA identified one core combination of two strategies/mechanisms. The identification of core strategies/mechanisms and common pre-conditional and mediating contextual determinants of a specific innovation offers spread facilitators and implementers a priority list for tailoring spread activities.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: 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 The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Publisher Keywords: Core components; Function; Innovation; Mechanism; Medicines; Qualitative Comparative Analysis; Spread; Strategies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

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