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Sahay A, Stetler CB. PARIHS as a theoretical framework for implementation science research: A systematic conceptual evaluation by a VA QUERI Initiative. Poster session presented at: National Institutes of Health Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation: Research At The Crossroads; 2012 Mar 19; Bethesda, MD.
Abstract: Problem: The Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) conceptual framework is posited as useful for guiding design of implementation studies. The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) QUERI program initiated the "PARIHS Development Initiative" (PDI) to accelerate our collective learning about this framework, including its potential usefulness/ limitations, and to model exploration of implementation theories in general. PDI aimed to leverage combined experiences and knowledge available throughout QUERI regarding PARIHS to enhance our related understanding and guide its practical use. Methods: A structured qualitative process was used to explore use of PARIHS, as well as use of theory in general. Documentation tools were developed to examine QUERI reports and publications. Structured phone interviews were conducted using reflective exploration methods with QUERI researchers. Interview and documentation notes were forwarded to participants for affirmation/clarifications. Based on final affirmation documents, step-wise content analysis and summaries were conducted across sources, foci and Centers to develop themes, all of which were iteratively refined and affirmed through consensus. Findings: Findings demonstrate that theories have been increasingly used over time within QUERI, at both a macro and specific level; i.e., use ranged from providing general insights to directing specific aspects of individual projects, such as measurement. PARIHS was selected by QUERIs for reasons such as its logical, sensible appeal, and used to provide general guidance regarding implementation as well as directly inform assessment/measurement, intervention planning and analysis. Perceived strengths and limitations, along with challenges related to PARIHS use, were identified, reflecting and expanding upon the PDI's PARIHS synthesis. Contribution: Implementation science theories, including PARIHS, are serving many functions for QUERI Centers, from provision of general insights for implementation programs to specific guidance on development and assessment of individual projects. This knowledge provides QUERI and other researchers' concrete information about general use of theory and specifically about PARIHS. Funding: This research was supported by the US Department of Veterans Affairs QUERI program.

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