a1 Department of Research and Development, Region Halland, Halmstad, Sweden
a2 Department of Primary Health Care, the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
a3 School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden
a4 Centre for Media and Communication Studies, Halmstad University, Halmstad, Sweden
Aim To evaluate the long-term utilisation of strategic communication as a factor of importance when changing work practices among primary care staff.
Background In many health care organisations, there is a gap between theory and practice. This gap hinders the provision of optimal evidence-based practice and, in the long term, is unfavourable for patient care. One way of overcoming this barrier is systematically structured communication between the scientific theoretical platform and clinical practice.
Methods This longitudinal evaluative study was conducted among a primary care staff cohort. Strategic communication was considered to be the intervention platform and included a network of ambassadors who acted as a component of the implementation. Measurements occurred 7 and 12 years after formation of the cohort. A questionnaire was used to obtain information from participants. In total, 846 employees (70%) agreed to take part in the study. After 12 years, the 352 individuals (60%) who had remained in the organisation were identified and followed up. Descriptive statistics and multivariate analysis were used to analyse the data.
Findings Continuous information contributed to significant improvements over time with respect to new ideas and the intention to change work practices. There was a statistically significant synergistic effect on the new way of thinking, that is, willingness to change work practices. During the final two years, the network of ambassadors had created a distinctive image for itself in the sense that primary care staff members were aware of it and its activities. This awareness was associated with a positive change with regard to new ways of thinking. More years of practice was inversely associated with willingness to change work practices. Strategic communication may lead to a scientific platform that promotes high-quality patient care by means of new methods and research findings.
(Received August 30 2011)
(Accepted October 26 2011)
(Online publication January 30 2012)