Follow-up of severely injured patients can be embedded in routine hospital care: results from a feasibility study

Elizabeth Wake, Caitlin Brandenburg, Kathy Heathcote, Kate Dale, Don Campbell, Magnolia Cardona

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Understanding the longitudinal patient experience outcomes following major trauma can promote successful recovery. A novel, hospital-led telephone follow-up program was implemented by a multi-disciplinary clinical trauma service team at a Level I trauma center. This process evaluation examined what factors promoted or impeded the program’s implementation.

A prospective convergent mixed methods process evaluation design was used. Quantitative data included patient and injury demographics and program feasibility data such number of telephone calls attempted/completed and call duration. Qualitative data consisted of semi-structured interviews with program participants (staff, patients, caregivers) who had participated in the program. Descriptive statistics and thematic analysis were applied to quantitative and qualitative data respectively. Data were collected concurrently and merged in the results to understand and describe the implementation and sustainability of the program.

274 major trauma patients (ISS ≥ 12) were eligible for follow-up. A response rate of over 75% was achieved, with nurses responsible for most of the calls. Limited time and competing clinical demands were identified as barriers to the timely completion of the calls.
Participants valued the pre-existing trauma service/patient relationship, and this facilitated program implementation. Clinicians were motivated to evaluate their patient’s recovery, whilst patients felt ‘cared for’ and ‘not forgotten’ post-hospital discharge. Teamwork and leadership were highly valued by the clinical staff throughout the implementation period as ongoing source of motivation and support.
Staff spontaneously developed the program to incorporate clinical follow up processes by providing guidance, advice and referrals to patients who indicated ongoing issues such as pain or emotional problems.

Telephone follow-up within a clinical trauma service team is feasible, accepted by staff and valued by patients and families. Despite time constraints, the successful implementation of this program is reliant on existing clinical/patient relationships, staff teamwork and leadership support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-150
Number of pages13
JournalHospital Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2022


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