From concept to content: assessing the implementation fidelity of a chronic care model for frail, older people who live at home

Maaike E Muntinga, Karen M Van Leeuwen, François G Schellevis, Giel Nijpels, Aaltje P D Jansen

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Implementation fidelity, the degree to which a care program is implemented as intended, can influence program impact. Since results of trials that aim to implement comprehensive care programs for frail, older people have been conflicting, assessing implementation fidelity alongside these trials is essential to differentiate between flaws inherent to the program and implementation issues. This study demonstrates how a theory-based assessment of fidelity can increase insight in the implementation process of a complex intervention in primary elderly care. Methods: The Geriatric Care Model was implemented among 35 primary care practices in the Netherlands. During home visits, practice nurses conducted a comprehensive geriatric assessment and wrote a tailored care plan. Multidisciplinary team consultations were organized with the aim to enhance the coordination between professionals caring for a single patient with complex needs. To assess fidelity, we identified 5 key intervention components and formulated corresponding research questions using Carroll's framework for fidelity. Adherence (coverage, frequency, duration, content) was assessed per intervention component during and at the end of the intervention period. Two moderating factors (participant responsiveness and facilitation strategies) were assessed at the end of the intervention. Results: Adherence to the geriatric assessments and care plans was high, but decreased over time. Adherence to multidisciplinary consultations was initially poor, but increased over time. We found that individual differences in adherence between practice nurses and primary care physicians were moderate, while differences in participant responsiveness (satisfaction, involvement) were more distinct. Nurses deviated from protocol due to contextual factors and personal work routines. Conclusions: Adherence to the Geriatric Care Model was high for most of the essential intervention components. Study limitations include the limited number of assessed moderating factors. We argue that a longitudinal investigation of adherence per intervention component is essential for a complete understanding of the implementation process, but that such investigations may be complicated by practical and methodological challenges. Trial registration: The Netherlands National Trial Register (NTR). Trial number: 2160.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2015


  • Comprehensive care model
  • E
  • Implementation fidelity
  • chronic care model
  • complex intervention
  • comprehensive care model
  • correspondence
  • elderly care
  • implementation fidelity
  • m
  • muntinga
  • nl
  • primary care
  • vumc

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