Haverhals LM, Gilman C, Manheim C, Bauers C, Kononowech J, Levy C. Implementation of VA's Life-Sustaining Treatment Decisions Initiative: Facilitators and Barriers to Early Implementation Across Seven VA Medical Centers. Journal of pain and symptom management. 2021 Jul 1; 62(1):125-133.e2.
In 2017, Veterans Health Administration (VHA) National Center for Ethics in Health Care began system-wide implementation of the Life-Sustaining Treatment Decisions Initiative (LSTDI). The LSTDI is a national VHA policy and practice to promote conducting goals of care conversations and documenting veterans' preferences for life-sustaining treatments (LSTs).
The aim of this article is to describe facilitators and barriers to early implementation of the LSTDI within one VHA Veterans Integrated Service Network.
From September 2016 to December 2018, we conducted site visits and semistructured phone interviews with implementation coordinators who championed the LSTDI rollout at seven VHA medical centers. We applied the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) to assess facilitators and barriers to implementing the LSTDI and assigning interview data to specific CFIR constructs and CFIR valence ratings. We simultaneously benchmarked VHA medical centers' implementation progress as outlined by the National Center for Ethics in Health Care implementation guidebook.
We divided sites into three descriptive groups based on implementation progress: successfully implemented (n = 2); moving forward, but delayed (n = 3); and implementation stalled (n = 2). Five CFIR constructs emerged as facilitators or barriers to implementation of the LSTDI: 1) self-efficacy of implementation coordinators; 2) leadership engagement; 3) compatibility with pre-existing workflows; 4) available resources; and 5) overall implementation climate.
Although self-efficacy proved key to overcoming obstacles, degree of perceived workflow compatibility of the LSTDI policy, available resources, and leadership engagement must be adequate for successful implementation within the implementation time line. Without these components, successful implementation was hindered or delayed.