Sustainment of Innovations in Palliative Care: A Survey on Lessons Learned From a Nationwide Quality Improvement Program

Anke J. E. de Veer, Margot A. H. Fleuren, Hille Voss, Anneke L. Francke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Although much is known about factors influencing short-term implementation, little is known about what factors are relevant for the long-term sustainment of innovations. In the Dutch National Quality Improvement Program for Palliative Care, innovations were implemented in 76 implementation projects. Objectives: To give insight into the sustainment strategies used and factors facilitating and hindering sustainment. Methods: Online questionnaire with prestructured and open questions sent to the contact persons for 76 implementation projects, 2–6.5 years after the start. Results: Information was gathered on 63 implementation projects (response 83%). Most projects took place in home care, general practices, and/or nursing homes. Sustainment was attained in 60% of the implementation projects. Six often applied strategies were statistically significantly related to sustainment: 1) realizing coherence between the innovation and the strategic policy of the organization; 2) arranging to have a specific professional responsible for the use of the innovation; 3) integrating the innovation into the organization's broader palliative care policy; 4) arranging accessibility of the innovation; 5) involving management in the implementation project; and 6) giving regular feedback about the implementation. In three-quarters of the projects, barriers and facilitators were encountered relating to characteristics of the care organizations, such as employee turnover and ratification of the project by the management. Conclusion: Applying the six strategies enhances sustainment. The organization plays a decisive role in the sustainment of innovations in palliative care. Engaging the management team in implementation projects from early onset is of utmost importance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-304
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Sustainability
  • follow-up studies
  • implementation
  • innovation
  • program evaluation
  • program sustainability

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