BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to identify organizational strategies for improving staff performance in primary care practices. The study rationale was based on theory, research, and practice regarding educational interventions that help people help themselves. Analysis of qualitative and quantitative data produced both plausible explanations of organizational change and implications for future efforts. METHODS: The Health Education and Research Trial (HEART) Project was an experimental study designed to improve prevention services for cardiovascular disease. Primary care clinics were randomized into four experimental treatments. Two representative practices from each treatment arm were chosen for an in-depth cross-case analysis. Extensive data from each selected practice included patient medical record reviews and questionnaires, interviews and questionnaires from physicians and clinic staff, project records, and follow-up interviews. After detailed case descriptions were created for each practice, a cross-case analysis was performed. RESULTS: Each practice improved cardiovascular prevention services somewhat. However, there was a great range of impact, likely reflecting both experimental intervention and local contingencies. Eight positive influences were identified: effective leadership, priority setting, joint planning, cooperation and teamwork, acquisition of resources, increased support and ownership, accomplishment of improvements, and personal changes. Major influences that hindered improvement included patient load, turmoil related to reorganization, lack of wide-spread routines, hospital-affiliated practice, poor communication, and fragmentation within a clinic. FINDINGS: Continuing medical education providers can enhance preventive services to improve patient health status by promoting organizational change. Suggested strategies supported by this study include selecting able leaders, focusing on accomplishments, obtaining agreement on prevention priorities, addressing local contingencies, increasing teamwork, engaging in joint planning, emphasizing quality improvement, acquiring resources, encouraging persistence, and reducing hindrances.
|Number of pages
|The Journal of continuing education in the health professions
|Published - 2001
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