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Systematic Review by Dr. Wagenaar assesses the use of the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC)

Posted: 11/2/2023 (CSDE Research)

CSDE Affiliate Bradley H. Wagenaar (Associate Professor, Global Health) and co-authors published their systematic review in Implementation Science, called “Application of the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC) compilation of strategies to health intervention implementation in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review“. The Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC) project developed a compilation of implementation strategies that are intended to standardize reporting and evaluation. Little is known about the application of ERIC in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Authors systematically reviewed the literature on the use and specification of ERIC strategies for health intervention implementation in LMICs to identify gaps and inform future research.

Authors searched peer-reviewed articles published through March 2023 in any language that (1) were conducted in an LMIC and (2) cited seminal ERIC articles or (3) mentioned ERIC in the title or abstract. Two co-authors independently screened all titles, abstracts, and full-text articles, then abstracted study, intervention, and implementation strategy characteristics of included studies.

The final sample included 60 studies describing research from all world regions, with over 30% published in the final year of their review period. Most studies took place in healthcare settings (n = 52, 86.7%), while 11 (18.2%) took place in community settings and four (6.7%) at the policy level. Across studies, 548 distinct implementation strategies were identified with a median of six strategies (range 1–46 strategies) included in each study. Most studies (n = 32, 53.3%) explicitly matched implementation strategies used for the ERIC compilation. Among those that did, 64 (87.3%) of the 73 ERIC strategies were represented. Many of the strategies not cited included those that target systems- or policy-level barriers. Nearly 85% of strategies included some component of strategy specification, though most only included specification of their action (75.2%), actor (57.3%), and action target (60.8%). A minority of studies employed randomized trials or high-quality quasi-experimental designs; only one study evaluated implementation strategy effectiveness.

While ERIC use in LMICs is rapidly growing, its application has not been consistent nor commonly used to test strategy effectiveness. Research in LMICs must better specify strategies and evaluate their impact on outcomes. Moreover, strategies that are tested need to be better specified, so they may be compared across contexts. Finally, strategies targeting policy-, systems-, and community-level determinants should be further explored.


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