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Sep 08, 2015
BMC Medical Research Methodology
BACKGROUND: Several papers report deficiencies in the reporting of information about the implementation of interventions in clinical trials. Information about implementation is also required in systematic reviews of complex interventions to facilitate the translation and uptake of evidence of provider-based prevention and treatment programs. To capture whether and how implementation is assessed within systematic effectiveness reviews, we developed a checklist for implementation (Ch-IMP) and piloted it in a cohort of reviews on provider-based prevention and treatment interventions for children and young people. This paper reports on the inter-rater reliability, feasibility and reasons for discrepant ratings. METHODS: Checklist domains were informed by a framework for program theory; items within domains were generated from a literature review. The checklist was pilot-tested on a cohort of 27 effectiveness reviews targeting children and youth. Two raters independently extracted information on 47 items. Inter-rater reliability was evaluated using percentage agreement and unweighted kappa coefficients. Reasons for discrepant ratings were content analysed. RESULTS: Kappa coefficients ranged from 0.37 to 1.00 and were not influenced by one-sided bias. Most kappa values were classified as excellent (n = 20) or good (n = 17) with a few items categorised as fair (n = 7) or poor (n = 1). Prevalence-adjusted kappa coefficients indicate good or excellent agreement for all but one item. Four areas contributed to scoring discrepancies: 1) clarity or sufficiency of information provided in the review; 2) information missed in the review; 3) issues encountered with the tool; and 4) issues encountered at the review level. Use of the tool demands time investment and it requires adjustment to improve its feasibility for wider use. CONCLUSIONS: The case of provider-based prevention and treatment interventions showed relevancy in developing and piloting the Ch-IMP as a useful tool for assessing the extent to which systematic reviews assess the quality of implementation. The checklist could be used by authors and editors to improve the quality of systematic reviews, and shows promise as a pedagogical tool to facilitate the extraction and reporting of implementation characteristics.

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