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Open Access Short report

Should we feed back research results in the midst of a study?

Carole A Estabrooks1*, Gary F Teare2 and Peter G Norton3

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 1C9, Canada

2 Quality Measurement and Analysis, Saskatchewan Health Quality Council, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N 3R2, Canada

3 Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 4N1, Canada

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Implementation Science 2012, 7:87  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-7-87

Published: 13 September 2012

Abstract

Background

This report is an introduction to a series of three research papers that describe the evolution of the approaches taken by the Translating Research in Elder Care (TREC) research team during its first four years to feed back the research findings to study participants. TREC is an observational multi-method health services research project underway in 36 nursing homes in the prairie provinces of Canada. TREC has actively involved decision makers from the sector in all stages from initial planning, through data collection to dissemination activities. However, it was not planned as a fully integrated knowledge translation project. These three papers describe our progress towards fully integrated knowledge translation—with respect to timely and requested feedback processes. The first paper reports on the process and outcomes of creating and evaluating the feedback of research findings to healthcare aides (unregulated health professionals). These aides provide over 80% of the direct care in our sample and actively requested the feedback as a condition of their continued cooperation in the data acquisition process. The second paper describes feedback from nursing home administrators on preliminary research findings (a facility annual report) and evaluation of the reports’ utility. The third paper discusses an approach to providing a more in-depth form of feedback (expanded feedback report) at one of the TREC nursing homes.

Findings

Survey and interview feedback from healthcare aides is presented in the first paper. Overall, healthcare aides’ opinions about presentation of the feedback report and the understand ability, usability, and usefulness of the content were positive. The second paper describes the use of telephone interviews with facility administrators and indicates that the majority of contextual areas (e.g., staff job satisfaction) addressed in facility annual report to be useful, meaningful, and understandable. More than one-half of the administrators would have liked to have received information on additional areas. The third paper explores how a case study that examined how involvement with the TREC study influenced management and staff at one of the TREC nursing homes. The importance of understanding organizational routines and the impact of corporate restructuring were key themes emerging from the case study. In addition, the Director of Care suggested changes to the structure and format of the feedback report that would have improved its usefulness.

Conclusions

We believe that these findings will inform others undertaking integrated knowledge translation activities and will encourage others to become more engaged in feedback processes.