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Replicating an effective VA program to train and support family caregivers: a hybrid type III effectiveness-implementation design.

Boucher NA, Zullig LL, Shepherd-Banigan M, Decosimo KP, Dadolf J, Choate A, Mahanna EP, Sperber NR, Wang V, Allen KA, Hastings SN, Van Houtven CH. Replicating an effective VA program to train and support family caregivers: a hybrid type III effectiveness-implementation design. BMC health services research. 2021 May 6; 21(1):430.

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BACKGROUND: Caring for a growing aging population using existing long-term care resources while simultaneously supporting and educating family caregivers, is a public health challenge. We describe the application of the Replicating Effective Programs (REP) framework, developed by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention and used in public health program implementation, to scale up an evidence-based family caregiver training intervention in the Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system. METHODS: From 2018 to 2020, clinicians at eight VA medical centers received REP-guided implementation including facilitation, technical assistance, and implementation tools to deliver the training program. The project team used the REP framework to develop activities across four distinct phases - (1) pre-conditions, (2) pre-implementation, (3) implementation, and (4) maintenance and evolution - and systematically tracked implementation facilitators, barriers, and adaptations. RESULTS: Within the REP framework, results describe how each medical center adapted implementation approaches to fit local needs. We highlight examples of how sites balanced adaptations and intervention fidelity. CONCLUSIONS: The REP framework shows promise for national expansion of the caregiver training intervention, including to non-VA systems of care, because it allows sites to adapt while maintaining intervention fidelity. TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT03474380 . Date registered: March 22, 2018.

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