Reflective writing: a tool to support continuous learning and improved effectiveness in implementation facilitators

  • Tanya T. Olmos-Ochoa (Creator)
  • Karissa M. Fenwick (Creator)
  • David A. Ganz (Creator)
  • Neetu Chawla (Creator)
  • Lauren S. Penney (Department of Veterans Affairs) (Creator)
  • Jenny M. Barnard (Creator)
  • Isomi M. Miake-Lye (Creator)
  • Alison B. Hamilton (Creator)
  • Erin Finley Garcia (Creator)



Abstract Background Implementation facilitators support the adoption of evidence-based practices and other improvement efforts in complex healthcare settings. Facilitators are trained to develop essential facilitation skills and facilitator effectiveness is typically evaluated post-implementation, but little is known about how facilitators apply and adapt didactic knowledge after training, or how learning and refining experiential knowledge occurs during the facilitation process. We propose the use of reflective writing as a tool to document and support facilitator learning and facilitator effectiveness. Methods Using an instrumental case study of the Coordination Toolkit and Coaching (CTAC) project, we explore the use of reflective writing by facilitators to support their learning and effectiveness. Six primary care clinics participated in weekly hour-long facilitation calls over a 12-month period to implement quality improvement projects related to care coordination. Two facilitators completed templated reflections after each facilitation call for their assigned sites, totaling 269 reflections. We used the declarative-procedural-reflective model, which defines the process of skill development in clinical practice, to qualitatively analyze the reflections. Two independent coders used content analysis principles to code text that captured facilitators’ observations, evaluations, interpretations, and communication. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze reflections by facilitator and by code within and across reflections. Results CTAC facilitators primarily used the reflections to summarize the calls (observation), assess the facilitation process and the tasks and activities they used (evaluation), document their thoughts about how to improve their own effectiveness (interpretation), and describe their communication with implementing teams. Ninety-one percent of reflections included observations, 42% interpretation, 41% evaluation, and 44% facilitator communication. In total, we coded 677 segments of text within reflections: 39% represented observation, 20% interpretation, 18% evaluation, and 23% facilitator communication. Conclusions The process of reflective writing allowed the CTAC facilitators the time and structure to evaluate their facilitation and to think critically about how to adjust their facilitation in response to their observations and interpretations. Reflective writing is a feasible and acceptable tool to support and document facilitator learning and effectiveness. Trial registration The project was registered with ( NCT03063294 ) on February 24, 2017.
Date made available2021

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