Implementation fidelity of a self-management course for epilepsy: method and assessment

G. Wojewodka, S. Hurley, S. J. C. Taylor, A. J. Noble, L. Ridsdale, L. H. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Complex interventions such as self-management courses are difficult to evaluate due to the many interacting components. The way complex interventions are delivered can influence the effect they have for patients, and can impact the interpretation of outcomes of clinical trials. Implementation fidelity evaluates whether complex interventions are delivered according to protocol. Such assessments have been used for one-to-one psychological interventions; however, the science is still developing for group interventions.
Methods: We developed and tested an instrument to measure implementation fidelity of a two-day self-management course for people with epilepsy, SMILE(UK). Using audio recordings, we looked at adherence and competence of course facilitators. Adherence was assessed by checklists. Competence was measured by scoring group interaction, an overall impression score and facilitator “didacticism”. To measure “didacticism”, we developed a novel way to calculate facilitator speech using computer software. Using this new instrument, implementation fidelity of SMILE(UK) was assessed on three modules of the course, for 28% of all courses delivered.
Results: Using the instrument for adherence, scores from two independent raters showed substantial agreement with weighted Kappa of 0.67 and high percent agreement of 81.2%. For didacticism, the results from both raters were highly correlated with an intraclass coefficient of 0.97 (p < 0.0001). We found that the courses were delivered with a good level of adherence (> 50% of scored items received the maximum of 2 points) and high competence. Groups were interactive (mean score: 1.9–2.0 out of 2) and the overall impression was on average assessed as “good”. Didacticism varied from 42% to 93% of total module time and was not associated with the other competence scores.
Conclusion: The instrument devised to measure implementation fidelity was reproducible and easy to use. The courses for the SMILE(UK) study were delivered with a good level of adherence to protocol while not compromising facilitator competence.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Issue number100
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2017


  • Fidelity
  • complex intervention
  • adherance
  • competence
  • diadacticm
  • epilepsy
  • self-management


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