This part of the Matryoshka project sought to understand the processes with which early intervention in psychosis (EIP) programmes were implemented and developed. The goals were to understand the key influences of programme implementation in the context of rapid EIP service growth and lack of specific provincial guidelines.
Sampling was purposive and data were collected with semi-structured interviews. Five Matryoshka Project programmes were successfully contacted. All interviews were conducted by phone, recorded and transcribed verbatim. Emerging themes were analysed iteratively and discussed among authors. Key themes were validated with participants.
The new EIP services were significantly influenced by the provincial EIP network, advocacy groups and clinical mentors. EIP programme decision makers often relied on each other for guidance. Although the research evidence assisted programme decision makers to develop an effective EIP model for their region, implementation was often shaped by funding constraints. Programmes adapted their EIP models according to funding and local service characteristics. The lack of specific guidelines may have allowed innovation; programme creativity and diversity is consistent with EIP values. Despite the challenges related to geography and staffing, programmes experienced important successes such as partnerships across sectors, quality clinical service and the ability to engage hard-to-serve clientele.
Although important, research evidence played only a secondary role. Relationships among providers and services, coupled with the dedication of front-line staff, were more critical to knowledge exchange than written documents alone. These findings stress the importance of researcher-front-line relationships to the adoption of evidence-informed practice.
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