Influences of post-implementation factors on the sustainability, sustainment, and intra-organizational spread of complex interventions

Yuting Song, Lauren MacEachern, Malcolm B. Doupe, Liane Ginsburg, Stephanie A. Chamberlain, Lisa Cranley, Adam Easterbrook, Matthias Hoben, Jennifer Knopp-Sihota, R. Colin Reid, Adrian Wagg, Carole A. Estabrooks, Janice M. Keefe, Tim Rappon, Whitney B. Berta

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Complex interventions are increasingly applied to healthcare problems. Understanding of post-implementation sustainment, sustainability, and spread of interventions is limited. We examine these phenomena for a complex quality improvement initiative led by care aides in 7 care homes (long-term care homes) in Manitoba, Canada. We report on factors influencing these phenomena two years after implementation. Methods: Data were collected in 2019 via small group interviews with unit- and care home-level managers (n = 11) from 6 of the 7 homes using the intervention. Interview participants discussed post-implementation factors that influenced continuing or abandoning core intervention elements (processes, behaviors) and key intervention benefits (outcomes, impact). Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed with thematic analysis. Results: Sustainment of core elements and sustainability of key benefits were observed in 5 of the 6 participating care homes. Intra-unit intervention spread occurred in 3 of 6 homes. Factors influencing sustainment, sustainability, and spread related to intervention teams, unit and care home, and the long-term care system. Conclusions: Our findings contribute understanding on the importance of micro-, meso-, and macro-level factors to sustainability of key benefits and sustainment of some core processes. Inter-unit spread relates exclusively to meso-level factors of observability and practice change institutionalization. Interventions should be developed with post-implementation sustainability in mind and measures taken to protect against influences such as workforce instability and competing internal and external demands. Design should anticipate need to adapt interventions to strengthen post-implementation traction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number666
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec. 2022


  • Caregiving – Formal
  • Implementation Science
  • Long-term Care
  • Management


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