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Keywords:

  • facilitation;
  • change agents;
  • evidence-based practice;
  • research implementation;
  • practice development;
  • concept analysis

Getting evidence into practice: the role and function of facilitation

Aim of paper. This paper presents the findings of a concept analysis of facilitation in relation to successful implementation of evidence into practice.

Background. In 1998, we presented a conceptual framework that represented the interplay and interdependence of the many factors influencing the uptake of evidence into practice. One of the three elements of the framework was facilitation, alongside the nature of evidence and context. It was proposed that facilitators had a key role in helping individuals and teams understand what they needed to change and how they needed to change it. As part of the on-going development and refinement of the framework, the elements within it have undergone a concept analysis in order to provide theoretical and conceptual clarity.

Methods. The concept analysis approach was used as a framework to review critically the research literature and seminal texts in order to establish the conceptual clarity and maturity of facilitation in relation to its role in the implementation of evidence-based practice.

Findings. The concept of facilitation is partially developed and in need of delineation and comparison. Here, the purpose, role and skills and attributes of facilitators are explored in order to try and make distinctions between this role and other change agent roles such as educational outreach workers, academic detailers and opinion leaders.

Conclusions. We propose that facilitation can be represented as a set of continua, with the purpose of facilitation ranging from a discrete task-focused activity to a more holistic process of enabling individuals, teams and organizations to change. A number of defining characteristics of facilitation are proposed. However, further research to clarify and evaluate different models of facilitation is required.