“I had to somehow still be flexible”: exploring adaptations during implementation of brief cognitive behavioral therapy in primary care

Jun 05, 2018 | J. Mignogna, L. A. Martin, J. Harik, N. E. Hundt, M. Kauth, A. D. Naik, K. Sorocco, J. Benzer and J. Cully

BACKGROUND: Primary care clinics present challenges to implementing evidence-based psychotherapies (EBPs) for depression and anxiety, and frontline providers infrequently adopt these treatments. The current study explored providers’ perspectives on fidelity to a manualized brief cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as delivered in primary care clinics as part of a pragmatic randomized trial. Data from the primary study demonstrated the clinical effectiveness of the treatment and indicated that providers delivered brief CBT with high fidelity, as evaluated by experts using a standardized rating form. Data presented here explore challenges providers faced during implementation and how they adapted nonessential intervention components to make the protocol “fit” into their clinical practice.

METHODS: A multiprofessional group of providers (n = 18) completed a one-time semi-structured interview documenting their experiences using brief CBT in the primary care setting. Data were analyzed via directed content analysis, followed by inductive sorting of interview excerpts to identify key themes agreed upon by consensus. The Dynamic Adaptation Process model provided an overarching framework to allow better understanding and contextualization of emergent themes.

RESULTS: Providers described a variety of adaptations to the brief CBT to better enable its implementation. Adaptations were driven by provider skills and abilities (i.e., using flexible content and delivery options to promote treatment engagement), patient-emergent issues (i.e., addressing patients’ broader life and clinical concerns), and system-level resources (i.e., maximizing the time available to provide treatment).

CONCLUSIONS: The therapeutic relationship, individual patient factors, and system-level factors were critical drivers guiding how providers adapted EBP delivery to improve the “fit” into their clinical practice. Adaptations were generally informed by tensions between the EBP protocol and patient and system needs and were largely not addressed in the EBP protocol itself. Adaptations were generally viewed as acceptable by study fidelity experts and helped to more clearly define delivery procedures to improve future implementation efforts. It is recommended that future EBP implementation efforts examine the concept of fidelity on a continuum rather than dichotomized as adherent/not adherent with focused efforts to understand the context of EBP delivery.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov,  NCT01149772..

PubMed Abstract

Mignogna, J., Martin, L. A., Harik, J., Hundt, N. E., Kauth, M., Naik, A. D., . . . Cully, J. (2018). "I had to somehow still be flexible": exploring adaptations during implementation of brief cognitive behavioral therapy in primary care. Implement Sci, 13(1), 76. doi:10.1186/s13012-018-0768-z