An evaluation of clinical and academic secondments within NIHR CLAHRC SY

Project Plan

This project evaluated secondments established within two implementation themes of CLAHRC SY and offered to staff from CLAHRC SY  partner organisations. The Translating Knowledge into Action (TK2A) and User Centred Healthcare Design (UCHD) themes were involved. The secondments were first established in 2009 and had involved a total of 14 people at the time of evaluation in 2011. All but one secondment were part-time ranging from 20% to 50% WTE and lasted between six months and two years.

Both TK2A and UCHD had provided the opportunity for academic nursing staff from Sheffield Hallam University to be seconded to work on implementation projects with the intention that secondees would contribute some research expertise in addition to being provided with a staff development opportunity to learn about knowledge translation.  In addition, TK2A had created several clinical secondments for front-line nursing and allied health professionals to contribute to specific projects. Clinical secondees were appointed to facilitate the uptake of evidence into practice through introducing innovative implementation strategies and evaluating the impact of changes in practice.

All seven clinical secondments were funded through CLAHRC SY to enable backfill of clinical posts. Three academic secondments were funded by CLAHRC SY and the remaining four were supported through staff development opportunities provided by Sheffield Hallam University as part of the matched funding arrangements for CLAHRC SY.

The aim was to evaluate clinical and academic secondments into NIHR CLAHRC SY implementation projects with particular reference to the 'success' of the initiative. The specific objectives were:

  1. To detail the organisational and operational arrangements of the secondments. 
  2. To identify those factors that determine 'successful' secondments from the perspective of multiple stakeholders.
  3. To evaluate the secondments into CLAHRC SY with particular reference to the 'success' of the initiative. 
  4. To identify those factors which were influential in the achievement of 'successful' secondments.

A pluralistic evaluation approach was used to determine how successful the secondments had been in terms of achieving the aims of CLAHRC SY and the expectations of other stakeholders in order to shape and inform their further development and maximise their effectiveness.

The sampling frame incorporated three perspectives; those of the secondees, the seconding organisation and host CLAHRC SY teams.  The study participants comprised all 14 clinical and academic secondees plus a purposive sample of representatives from each of the other three stakeholder groups; National Health Service (NHS) managers, Higher Education Institution (HEI) managers and CLAHRC project managers. In each of these groups we identified and interviewed staff who could provide both strategic and operational perspectives.

Two facilitated focus groups, one with academic secondees (n=5) and the other with clinical secondees (n=5) were undertaken.  Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with the remaining secondees (n = 4). A self completion proforma was used to collect core information about the secondees and the secondments. 
Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with managers from the HEI (n=2), clinical practice (n=2) and the CLAHRC programme (n=2).  Individual and focus group interview schedules covered the same broad topics but were adapted to reflect the different roles and positions of the respondents. All focus groups and interviews were recorded and fully transcribed. Analysis followed a two stage process using NVIVO 8. Initial scrutiny identified six criteria of success which then provided the analytic framework.