Applying implementation frameworks to the clinical trial context

Oct 10, 2022 | Stensland

BACKGROUND: Clinical trials advance science, benefit society, and provide optimal care to individuals with some conditions, such as cancer. However, clinical trials often fail to reach their endpoints, and low participant enrollment remains a critical problem with trial conduct. In these ways, clinical trials can be considered beneficial evidence-based practices suffering from poor implementation. Prior approaches to improving trials have had difficulties with reproducibility and limited impact, perhaps due to the lack of an underlying trial improvement framework. For these reasons, we propose adapting implementation science frameworks to the clinical trial context to improve the implementation of clinical trials. MAIN TEXT: We adapted an outcomes framework (Proctor’s Implementation Outcomes Framework) and a determinants framework (the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research) to the trial context. We linked these frameworks to ERIC-based improvement strategies and present an inferential process model for identifying and selecting trial improvement strategies based on the Implementation Research Logic Model. We describe example applications of the framework components to the trial context and present a worked example of our model applied to a trial with poor enrollment. We then consider the implications of this approach on improving existing trials, the design of future trials, and assessing trial improvement interventions. Additionally, we consider the use of implementation science in the clinical trial context, and how clinical trials can be “test cases” for implementation research. CONCLUSIONS: Clinical trials can be considered beneficial evidence-based interventions suffering from poor implementation. Adapting implementation science approaches to the clinical trial context can provide frameworks for contextual assessment, outcome measurement, targeted interventions, and a shared vocabulary for clinical trial improvement. Additionally, exploring implementation frameworks in the trial context can advance the science of implementation through both “test cases” and providing fertile ground for implementation intervention design and testing.

PubMed Abstract

Stensland, K. D., Sales, A. E., Damschroder, L. J., & Skolarus, T. A. (2022). Applying implementation frameworks to the clinical trial context. Implement Sci Commun, 3(1), 109. doi:10.1186/s43058-022-00355-6