Advancing clinical leadership to improve the implementation of evidence-based practice in surgery: a longitudinal mixed-method study protocol
Grove A., Clarke A., Currie G., Metcalfe A., Pope C., Seers K.
© 2020, The Author(s). Background: Clinical leadership is fundamental in facilitating service improvements in healthcare. Few studies have attempted to understand or model the different approaches to leadership which are used when promoting the uptake and implementation of evidence-based interventions. This research aims to uncover and explain how distributed clinical leadership can be developed and improved to enhance the use of evidence in practice. In doing so, this study examines implementation leadership in orthopaedic surgery to explain leadership as a collective endeavour which cannot be separated from the organisational context. Methods: A mixed-method study consisting of longitudinal and cross-sectional interviews and an embedded social network analysis will be performed in six NHS hospitals. A social network analysis will be undertaken in each hospital to uncover the organisational networks, the focal leadership actors and information flows in each organisation. This will be followed by a series of repeated semi-structured interviews, conducted over 4 years, with orthopaedic surgeons and their professional networks. These longitudinal interviews will be supplemented by cross-sectional interviews with the national established surgical leaders. All qualitative data will be analysed using a constructivist grounded theory approach and integrated with the quantitative data. The participant narratives will enrich the social network to uncover the leadership configurations which exist, and how different configurations of leadership are functioning in practice to influence implementation processes and outcomes. Discussion: The study findings will facilitate understanding about how and why different configurations of leadership develop and under what organisational conditions and circumstances they are able to flourish. The study will guide the development of leadership interventions that are grounded in the data and aimed at advancing leadership for service improvement in orthopaedics. The strength of the study lies in the combination of multi-component, multi-site, multi-agent methods to examine leadership processes in surgery. The findings may be limited by the practical challenges of longitudinal qualitative data collection, such as ensuring participant retention, which need to be balanced against the theoretical and empirical insights generated through this comprehensive exploration of leadership across and within a range of healthcare organisations.