A pragmatic, stepped-wedge trial of tailored support for implementing social determinants of health documentation/action in community health centers, with realist evaluation

Implement Sci

Background: National leaders recommend documenting social determinants of health and actions taken to address social determinants of health in electronic health records, and a growing body of evidence suggests the health benefits of doing so. However, little evidence exists to guide implementation of social determinants of health documentation/action.

Methods: This paper describes a 5-year, mixed-methods, stepped-wedge trial with realist evaluation, designed to test the impact of providing 30 community health centers with step-by-step guidance on implementing electronic health record-based social determinants of health documentation. This guidance will entail 6 months of tailored support from an interdisciplinary team, including training and technical assistance. We will report on tailored support provided at each of five implementation steps; impact of tailored implementation support; a method for tracking such tailoring; and context-specific pathways through which these tailored strategies effect change. We will track the competencies and resources needed to support the study clinics' implementation efforts.

Discussion: Results will inform how to tailor implementation strategies to meet local needs in real-world practice settings. Secondary analyses will assess impacts of social determinants of health documentation and referral-making on diabetes outcomes. By learning whether and how scalable, tailored implementation strategies help community health centers adopt social determinants of health documentation and action, this study will yield timely guidance to primary care providers. We are not aware of previous studies exploring implementation strategies that support adoption of social determinants of action using electronic health and interventions, despite the pressing need for such guidance.

Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov, NCT03607617 , registration date: 7/31/2018-retrospectively registered.

Gold R, Bunce A, Cottrell E, et al. Study protocol: A pragmatic, stepped-wedge trial of tailored support for implementing social determinants of health documentation/action in community health centers, with realist evaluation. Implement Sci. 2019;14(1):9. PMID: 30691480. DOI: 10.1186/s13012-019-0855-9.

Publication Year: 
2019
Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed Research
Study Design: 
Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT)
Other Study Design
Outcomes: 
Patient Experience of Care
Screening Research: 
No