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Implementation of Web-Based Psychosocial Interventions for Adults With Acquired Brain Injury and Their Caregivers: Systematic Review

J Med Internet Res. 2022 Jul 26;24(7):e38100. doi: 10.2196/38100.


BACKGROUND: More than 135 million people worldwide live with acquired brain injury (ABI) and its many psychosocial sequelae. This growing global burden necessitates scalable rehabilitation services. Despite demonstrated potential to increase the accessibility and scalability of psychosocial supports, digital health interventions are challenging to implement and sustain. The Nonadoption, Abandonment, Scale-Up, Spread, and Sustainability (NASSS) framework can offer developers and researchers a comprehensive overview of considerations to implement, scale, and sustain digital health interventions.

OBJECTIVE: This systematic review identified published, peer-reviewed primary evidence of implementation outcomes, strategies, and factors for web-based psychosocial interventions targeting either adults with ABI or their formal or informal caregivers; evaluated and summarized this evidence; synthesized qualitative and quantitative implementation data according to the NASSS framework; and provided recommendations for future implementation. Results were compared with 3 hypotheses which state that complexity (dynamic, unpredictable, and poorly characterized factors) in most or all NASSS domains increases likelihood of implementation failure; success is achievable, but difficult with many complicated domains (containing multiple interacting factors); and simplicity (straightforward, predictable, and few factors) in most or all domains increases the likelihood of success.

METHODS: From a comprehensive search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Scopus, speechBITE, and neuroBITE, we reviewed primary implementation evidence from January 2008 to June 2020. For web-based psychosocial interventions delivered via standard desktop computer, mobile phone, tablet, television, and virtual reality devices to adults with ABI or their formal or informal caregivers, we extracted intervention characteristics, stakeholder involvement, implementation scope and outcomes, study design and quality, and implementation data. Implementation data were both narratively synthesized and descriptively quantified across all 7 domains (condition, technology, value proposition, adopters, organization, wider system, and their interaction over time) and all subdomains of the NASSS framework. Study quality and risk of bias were assessed using the 2018 Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool.

RESULTS: We identified 60 peer-reviewed studies from 12 countries, including 5723 adults with ABI, 1920 carers, and 50 health care staff. The findings aligned with all 3 hypotheses.

CONCLUSIONS: Although studies were of low methodological quality and insufficient number to statistically test relationships, the results appeared consistent with recommendations to reduce complexity as much as possible to facilitate implementation. Although studies excluded individuals with a range of comorbidities and sociocultural challenges, such simplification of NASSS domain 1 may have been necessary to advance intervention value propositions (domain 3). However, to create equitable digital health solutions that can be successfully implemented in real-world settings, it is recommended that developers involve people with ABI, their close others, and health care staff in addressing complexities in domains 2 to 7 from the earliest intervention design stages.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews CRD42020186387;


PMID:35881432 | DOI:10.2196/38100

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