A qualitative study of clinic and community member perspectives on intervention toolkits: "unless the toolkit is used it won't help solve the problem"

Melinda M. Davis, Sonya Howk, Margaret Spurlock, Paul B. McGinnis, Deborah J. Cohen, Lyle J. Fagnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Intervention toolkits are common products of grant-funded research in public health and primary care settings. Toolkits are designed to address the knowledge translation gap by speeding implementation and dissemination of research into practice. However, few studies describe characteristics of effective intervention toolkits and their implementation. Therefore, we conducted this study to explore what clinic and community-based users want in intervention toolkits and to identify the factors that support application in practice. Methods: In this qualitative descriptive study we conducted focus groups and interviews with a purposive sample of community health coalition members, public health experts, and primary care professionals between November 2010 and January 2012. The transdisciplinary research team used thematic analysis to identify themes and a cross-case comparative analysis to explore variation by participant role and toolkit experience. Results: Ninety six participants representing primary care (n = 54, 56%) and community settings (n = 42, 44%) participated in 18 sessions (13 focus groups, five key informant interviews). Participants ranged from those naïve through expert in toolkit development; many reported limited application of toolkits in actual practice. Participants wanted toolkits targeted at the right audience and demonstrated to be effective. Well organized toolkits, often with a quick start guide, with tools that were easy to tailor and apply were desired. Irrespective of perceived quality, participants experienced with practice change emphasized that leadership, staff buy-in, and facilitative support was essential for intervention toolkits to be translated into changes in clinic or public -health practice. Conclusions: Given the emphasis on toolkits in supporting implementation and dissemination of research and clinical guidelines, studies are warranted to determine when and how toolkits are used. Funders, policy makers, researchers, and leaders in primary care and public health are encouraged to allocate resources to foster both toolkit development and implementation. Support, through practice facilitation and organizational leadership, are critical for translating knowledge from intervention toolkits into practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number497
JournalBMC health services research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 18 2017


  • Community-based research
  • Implementation research
  • Knowledge translation
  • Practice change
  • Practice facilitation
  • Primary care
  • Qualitative methods
  • Toolkits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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