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Study protocol: Type III hybrid effectiveness-implementation study implementing Age-Friendly evidence-based practices in the VA to improve outcomes in older adults.

Piazza KM, Ashcraft LE, Rose L, Hall DE, Brown RT, Bowen MEL, Mavandadi S, Brecher AC, Keddem S, Kiosian B, Long JA, Werner RM, Burke RE. Study protocol: Type III hybrid effectiveness-implementation study implementing Age-Friendly evidence-based practices in the VA to improve outcomes in older adults. Implementation science communications. 2023 May 25; 4(1):57.

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BACKGROUND: Unmet care needs among older adults accelerate cognitive and functional decline and increase medical harms, leading to poorer quality of life, more frequent hospitalizations, and premature nursing home admission. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is invested in becoming an "Age-Friendly Health System" to better address four tenets associated with reduced harm and improved outcomes among the 4 million Veterans aged 65 and over receiving VA care. These four tenets focus on "4Ms" that are fundamental to the care of older adults, including (1) what Matters (ensuring that care is consistent with each person''s goals and preferences); (2) Medications (only using necessary medications and ensuring that they do not interfere with what matters, mobility, or mentation); (3) Mentation (preventing, identifying, treating, and managing dementia, depression, and delirium); and (4) Mobility (promoting safe movement to maintain function and independence). The Safer Aging through Geriatrics-Informed Evidence-Based Practices (SAGE) Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) seeks to implement four evidence-based practices (EBPs) that have shown efficacy in addressing these core tenets of an "Age-Friendly Health System," leading to reduced harm and improved outcomes in older adults. METHODS: We will implement four EBPs in 9 VA medical centers and associated outpatient clinics using a type III hybrid effectiveness-implementation stepped-wedge trial design. We selected four EBPs that align with Age-Friendly Health System principles: Surgical Pause, EMPOWER (Eliminating Medications Through Patient Ownership of End Results), TAP (Tailored Activities Program), and CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place - Advancing Better Living for Elders). Guided by the Pragmatic Robust Implementation and Sustainability Model (PRISM), we are comparing implementation as usual vs. active facilitation. Reach is our primary implementation outcome, while "facility-free days" is our primary effectiveness outcome across evidence-based practice interventions. DISCUSSION: To our knowledge, this is the first large-scale randomized effort to implement "Age-Friendly" aligned evidence-based practices. Understanding the barriers and facilitators to implementing these evidence-based practices is essential to successfully help shift current healthcare systems to become Age-Friendly. Effective implementation of this project will improve the care and outcomes of older Veterans and help them age safely within their communities. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Registered 05 May 2021, at ISRCTN #60,657,985. REPORTING GUIDELINES: Standards for Reporting Implementation Studies (see attached).

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