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VIReC Using Data and Information Systems in Partnered Research

Revisiting Focus Groups: A Systematic Approach to Collaboration beyond Operational Partners in Generating Evaluation Recommendations

by Ellen Ahlness, PhD ; Sherry Ball, PhD
Seminar date: 7/18/2023

Description: As a learning health system, VHA often evaluates the implementation of critical health services programs. However, recommendations on ‘reporting up’—taking the next steps in identifying or evaluating recommendations—are scarce. Evaluators are well equipped to collect and analyze data, but critical gaps can remain in understanding how these data should guide practice improvements. Clinical and operational partners are key in filling that gap. Drawing from the research designs of a QUERI-partnered evaluation initiatives (Strengthening Cerner Implementation for Health Professions Trainees to Optimize Learning and Reinforce Veteran Care, “SCHOLAR”), the presenters articulate such partnerships in the form of focus groups: value-adding recommendation-refinement spaces allowing evaluators and researchers to capture high-level contextual concerns and pragmatics not verifiable by evaluation participants themselves. This differs from focus groups’ traditional roles in data collection or participant checking.
This cyberseminar details an approach for collaboration to identify and refine feasible and impactful recommendations. Drawing on the ‘lessons learned’ from integrating refinement focus groups in SCHOLAR, the presenters discuss the strength of these focus groups as an informal, interactive format for generating a roadmap forward. We will illustrate pivots the team undertook in integrating this process into an established evaluation. We conclude with an overview of recommendations resulting from the refinement process and possible impact for operational partners.
Target Audience: Investigators who seek to make the most of data-driven suggestions and recommendations in their evaluation data, as well as those who want to make the most of collaboration by bringing in voices including, and beyond, operational partners.

View archived session video:

DOWNLOAD: PDF handout | Audio only (mp3) | transcript

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