A realist informed mixed-methods evaluation of Schwartz Center Rounds® in England.

Jill Maben, Cath Taylor, Jeremy Dawson, Mary Catherine Leamy, Imelda McCarthy, Ellie Frances Reynolds, Shilpa Ross, Carolilne Shuldham, Laura Bennett, Catherine Foot

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Background: Schwartz Center Rounds® (Rounds) were introduced into the UK in 2009 to support health-care staff to deliver compassionate care, something the Francis report (Francis R. Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry. London: The Stationery Office; 2013) identified as lacking. Rounds are organisation-wide forums that prompt reflection and discussion of the emotional, social and ethical challenges of health-care work, with the aim of improving staff well-being and patient care. Objectives: How, in which contexts and for whom Rounds participation affects staff well-being at work, increases social support for staff and improves patient care. Design: (1) A scoping review of Rounds literature and comparison with alternative interventions; (2) mapping Rounds providers via a survey, telephone interviews and secondary data; (3) a two-wave survey of (i) new attenders/non-attenders in 10 sites to determine the impact on staff engagement and well-being; and (ii) interviews with Rounds attenders, non-attenders, facilitators, clinical leads, steering group members, board members and observations in nine case study sites to (4) describe experiences and (5) test candidate programme theories by which Rounds ‘work’ (realist evaluation). Setting: (1) International literature (English); (2) all Rounds providers (acute/community NHS trusts and hospices) at 1 September 2014 (survey/interview) and 15 July 2015 (secondary data); (3) 10 survey sites; and (4 and 5) nine organisational case study sites (six of which also took part in the survey). Participants: (1) Ten papers were reviewed for Rounds and 146 were reviewed for alternative interventions. (2) Surveys were received from 41 out of 76 (54%) providers and interviews were conducted with 45 out of 76 (59%) providers. (3) Surveys were received from 1140 out of 3815 (30%) individuals at baseline and from 500 out of 1140 (44%) individuals at follow-up. (4 and 5) A total of 177 interviews were conducted, as were observations of 42 Rounds, 29 panel preparations and 28 steering group meetings. Results: (1) The evidence base is limited; compared with 11 alternative interventions, Rounds offer a unique organisation-wide ‘all staff’ forum in which disclosure/contribution is not essential. (2) Implementation rapidly increased between 2013 and 2015; Rounds were implemented variably; challenges included ward staff attendance and the workload and resources required to sustain Rounds; and costs were widely variable. (3) There was no change in engagement, but poor psychological well-being (12-item General Health Questionnaire) reduced significantly (p < 0.05) in Rounds attenders (25% to 12%) compared with non-attenders (37% to 34%). (4 and 5) Rounds were described as interesting, engaging and supportive; four contextual layers explained the variation in Rounds implementation. We identified four stages of Rounds, ‘core’ and ‘adaptable’ components of Rounds fidelity, and nine context–mechanism–outcome configurations: (i) trust, emotional safety and containment and (ii) group interaction were prerequisites for creating (iii) a countercultural space in Rounds where staff could (iv) tell stories, (v) self-disclose their experiences to peers and (vi) role model vulnerability; (vii) provide important context for staff and patient behaviour; (viii) shining a spotlight on hidden staff and patient stories reduced isolation and enhanced support/teamwork; and (ix) staff learned through reflection resulting in ripple effects and outcomes. Reported outcomes included increased empathy and compassion for colleagues and patients, support for staff and reported changes in practice. The impact of Rounds is cumulative and we have identified the necessary conditions for Rounds to work.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSouthampton
PublisherNIHR Journals Library
Commissioning bodyNIHR National Institute For Health & Care Research
Number of pages127
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

Publication series

NameHealth Services and Delivery Research
PublisherNIHR Journals Library
ISSN (Print)2050-4349
ISSN (Electronic)2050-4357


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