Qualitative interviews to facilitate a smooth transition from the evidence of self-management interventions to practice

Patients and health care professionals can use self-management interventions (SMI) to improve patient outcomes if there are decision-making tools that structure and facilitate the use of evidence in practice.

30. March 2022 | by Nina Sofie Krah & Paula Zietzsch | Research and Innovation, OptiMedis

During digitization in the healthcare system and the continuously advancing process toward patient-centred care, the responsibility of patients for their own health is becoming increasingly important. Particularly in the case of chronic diseases, it is important that patients are enabled to actively participate in the management of the disease [1]. This is where self-management interventions (SMIs) play a significant role. SMIs aim to equip patients and informal caregivers if appropriate to actively participate in the management of their disease [2].

SMIs have good evidence and are very well researched. We are developing the COMPAR-EU interactive platform with different types of decision-making tools that summarize this evidence about SMI in a structured and transparent way. The decision tools can support decision-making on SMIs and so integrating the evidence into practice for different end users such as patients, clinicians, policymakers or guideline developers.

Many well evidenced and exhaustively developed decision-making tools and interventions do not deliver their potential impact because their use requires changes in clinical workflows as well as organizational structure. In addition to this there is insufficient support for these changes [3]. This leads to the question how decision-making tools can facilitate and disseminate the use of the most effective SMIs into the real life? How can it be made visible at the right time and what incentives are there for healthcare professionals and managers to use decision-making tools and the other way around SMIs?

Interviews with managers and clinicians

These are the questions we want to explore with qualitative implementation interviews with managers and health care professionals at the organisational level in COMPAR-EU countries. We will use their insights to build and refine business plans for the various provider and health system context. This means that a manager or clinician working in any relevant provider can look at the business plan and identify any key actions they should take which would help themselves and their colleagues make use of the decision tools produced by COMPAR-EU.

Collecting information on different health systems represented in COMPAR-EU countries illustrates that Germany and Spain provide a good representation of health system feature, in particular due to the differences in organisational enablers in insurance-based system than purely public system. Therefore, we have conducted a total of 40x qualitative interviews with managers and clinicians in Spain and Germany. The participants were recruited from different settings (primary care practice, hospital or special care practice) so we can obtain the implementation factors of innovations from different perspectives. We developed a semi-structured interview guide with reference to the TICD framework and a realist review by Joseph-Williams et. al (2020).

Figure 1 The overall process of qualitative implementation study

Directed qualitative content analysis

Currently, the interviews need to be analysed. We will use directed qualitative content analysis (QCA). This approach allows combining the development of deductive as well as inductive codes, and so allowing the use of existing evidence. A guide for analysis will be provided, based on the work of Hsieh and Shannon [4], Hamilton [5], and Gale et al. [6]. A codebook will be developed by OptiMedis based on the TICD framework [7] (inductive) and interviews conducted (deductive).

Challenges of the cross-national research

As the translation of the interview guide in different languages is considered to be challenging task [8], we had several meetings to adjust and translate the interview guide to ensure the cultural meaning of the questions and the shared understanding between both teams, as the interviewers from different countries may have different views and experience.

Additionally, we agreed to conduct the interviews in the local language of the respective country to avoid any language difficulties for both the participants and the interviewers. After pretesting of the developed coding system, we will discuss and add possible additional themes if needed. Similar as in other studies [9] [10], each country team will analyse the data in the native language as long as possible and not translate all interview data into one language. This form of rapid qualitative analysis yields similar results compared to traditional qualitative analysis and is therefore a useful tool for this analysis [11].

Business plans with key actions for implementation

In summary, the interviews aim to identify drivers and barriers for the use of decision tools on the COMPAR-EU platform capturing the evidence of SMIs in practice. These results will serve to develop business plans for organisations who will actually be making use of the decision-making tools. These business plans will focus on how to implement evidence based decision aids about SMI at the organizational level into the healthcare system.

Nina Sofie Krah_Quadrat

Nina Sofie Krah

Nina has a background in Health Economics & Health Care Management as well as Ethics in Health Care and works at OptiMedis as a working student. With a keen interest in the use of evidence in the health care system, her master’s thesis explores the conditions under which self-management interventions can be meaningfully implemented into clinical workflow.


Paula Zietzsch

Paula has a background in Health Economics and works at OptiMedis in different national and EU projects with a particular interest in shared decision-making. As a Research & Innovation Manager, she focuses on implementing evi-dence-based interventions in routine clinical care.


[1] Aujoulat I, Marcolongo R, Bonadiman L, Deccache A. Reconsidering patient empowerment in chronic illness: a critique of models of self- efficacy and bodily control. Soc Sci Med. 2008;66(5):1228-1239. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.11.034.

[2] Tattersall RL. TThe expert patient: a new approach to chronic disease management for the twenty-first century. Clin Med (Lond). 2002;2(3):227-229. https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmedicine.2-3-227.

[3] Orrego C, Ballester M, Heymans M, et al; the COMPAR-EU Group. Talking the same language on patient empowerment: Development and content validation of a taxonomy of self-management interventions for chronic conditions. Health Expect. 2021;00:1–13. https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.13303.

[4] Hsieh H-F, Shannon SE. Three Approaches to Qualitative Content Analysis . Qual Health Res 2005;15:1277–88.

[5] Hamilton AB, Finley EP. Qualitative methods in implementation research: An introduction. Psychiatry Res 2019;280. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2019.112516.

[6] Gale RC, Wu J, Erhardt T, Bounthavong M, Reardon CM, Damschroder LJ, et al. Comparison of rapid vs in-depth qualitative analytic methods from a process evaluation of academic detailing in the Veterans Health Administration. Implement Sci 2019;14:1–12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13012-019-0853-y.

[7] Flottorp SA, Oxman AD, Krause J, Musila NR, Wensing M, Godycki-Cwirko M, et al. A checklist for identifying determinants of practice: A systematic review and synthesis of frameworks and taxonomies of factors that prevent or enable improvements in healthcare professional practice. Implement Sci 2013;8:1–11. https://doi.org/10.1186/1748-5908-8-35.

[8] McGreevy J, Orrevall Y, Belqaid K, Bernhardson BM. Reflections on the process of translation and cultural adaptation of an instrument to investigate taste and smell changes in adults with cancer. Scand J Caring Sci. 2014 Mar;28(1):204-11. DOI: 10.1111/scs.12026.

[9] Woolhead G, Tadd W, Boix-Ferrer JA, Krajcik S, Schmid-Pfahler B, Spjuth B, Stratton D, Dieppe P; Dignity, and Older Europeans (DOE) project. “Tu” or “Vous?” A European qualitative study of dignity and communication with older people in health and social care settings. Patient Educ Couns. 2006 Jun;61(3):363-71. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2005.04.014. Epub 2005 Jun 20. PMID: 15970421.

[10] Knutsen, I., Foss, C., Todorova, E., Roukova, P., Kennedy, A., Portillo, M., . . . Rogers, A. (2015). Negotiating diet in networks: A cross-European study of the experiences of managing Type 2 diabetes. Qualitative Health Research. 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732315610318.

[11] Nevedal, A.L., Reardon, C.M., Opra Widerquist, M.A. et al. Rapid versus traditional qualitative analysis using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR). Implementation Sci. 2021; 16(67).