Shifting mindsets: a realist synthesis of evidence from self-management support training

Freya Davies, Wood Fiona, Alison Bullock, Carolyn Wallace, Adrian Edwards

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CONTEXT Accompanying the growing expectation of patient self-management is the need to ensure health care professionals
(HCPs) have the required attitudes and skills to provide effective self-management support (SMS). Results from existing training
interventions for HCPs in SMS have been mixed and the evidence base is weaker for certain settings, including supporting people
with progressive neurological conditions (PNCs). We set out to understand how training operates, and to identify barriers and
facilitators to training designed to support shifts in attitudes amongst HCPs.

METHODS We undertook a realist literature synthesis focused on: (i) the influence of how HCPs, teams and organisations view and adopt self-management; and (ii) how SMS needs to be tailored for people with PNCs. A traditional database search strategy was used
alongside citation tracking, grey literature searching and stakeholder recommendations. We supplemented PNC-specific literature with data from other long-term conditions. Key
informant interviews and stakeholder advisory group meetings informed the synthesis process. Realist context-mechanism-outcome configurations were generated and mapped onto the stages described in Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory.

RESULTS Forty-four original articles were included (19 relating to PNCs), from which seven refined theories were developed. The
theories identified important training elements (evidence provision, building skills and confidence, facilitating reflection and generating empathy). The significant influence of workplace factors as possible barriers or facilitators was highlighted.
Embracing SMS often required challenging traditional professional role boundaries.

CONCLUSION The integration of SMS into routine care is not an automatic outcome from training. A transformative learning
process is often required to trigger the necessary mindset shift. Training should focus on how individual HCPs define and value SMS and how their work context (patient group and organisational constraints) influences this process. Proactively addressing potential contextual barriers may facilitate implementation. These findings could be applied to other types of training designed to
shift attitudes amongst HCPs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberMED-2017-0638.R2
Pages (from-to)274-287
JournalMedical Education
Issue number3
Early online date4 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jan 2018


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