Protheroe, J, Saunders, B, Hill, JC, Chudyk, A, Foster, NE, Bartlam, B, Wathall, S and Cooper, V (2021) Integrating clinician support with intervention design as part of a programme testing stratified care for musculoskeletal pain in general practice. BMC Family Practice, 22 (1). 161 - ?. ISSN 1471-2296

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BACKGROUND: Stratified care involves subgrouping patients based on key characteristics, e.g. prognostic risk, and matching these subgroups to early treatment options. The STarT-MSK programme developed and tested a new stratified primary care intervention for patients with common musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions in general practice. Stratified care involves changing General Practitioners' (GPs) behaviour, away from the current 'stepped' care approach to identifying early treatment options matched to patients' risk of persistent pain. Changing healthcare practice is challenging, and to aid the successful delivery of stratified care, education and support for GPs was required. This paper details the iterative development of a clinician support package throughout the lifespan of the programme, to support GPs in delivering the stratified care intervention. We argue that clinician support is a crucial aspect of the intervention itself, which is often overlooked. METHODS: Qualitative research with patients and GPs identified barriers and facilitators to the adoption of stratified care, which were mapped onto the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF). Identified domains were 'translated' into an educational paradigm, and an initial version of the support package developed. This was further refined following a feasibility and pilot RCT, and a finalised support package was developed for the main RCT. RESULTS: The clinician support package comprised face-to-face sessions combining adult-learning principles with behaviour change theory in a multimethod approach, which included group discussion, simulated consultations, patient vignettes and model consultation videos. Structured support for GPs was crucial to facilitate fidelity and, ultimately, a successful trial. Clinician support is a two-way process- the study team can learn from and adapt to specific local factors and issues not previously identified. The support from senior clinicians was required to ensure 'buy in'. Monitoring of GP performance, provision of regular feedback and remedial support are important aspects of effective clinician support. CONCLUSION: Designing effective clinician support from the onset of trial intervention design, in an evidence-based, theory-informed manner, is crucial to encourage active engagement and intervention fidelity within the trial, enabling the delivery of a robust and reliable proof-of-principle trial. We offer practical recommendations for future general practice interventions.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Clinician support; Intervention development and testing; Stratified care; General practice; Musculoskeletal pain
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC925 Diseases of the musculoskeletal system
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2021 11:27
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 14:45

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