CareSearch Evaluation – continuation of projects for the Knowledge Network
The CareSearch website was launched in 2004 and was initially designed to be a support and resource for specialist palliative care providers. In July 2006 the Knowledge Network Project commenced with the aim of establishing the first Australian Palliative Care Knowledge Network.
It was envisaged that this network would provide a ‘one stop shop’ for information and practical resources to serve the needs of all those providing or affected by palliative care.
Following consultation across the sector, the CareSearch website was modified (in 2007) to incorporate patient and carer information and general practitioner (GP) resources. In May 2008 the new website, CareSearch palliative care knowledge network, was launched. CHSD has undertaken a series of evaluations aimed at improving the useability of the site and its information content. In 2010 the evaluation covered three components of the website:
- CareSearch Nurses Information Newsletter (CNIN)
- @CareSearch Newsletter
- CareSearch Research Data Management System (RDMS)
The CareSearch Nurses Information Newsletter
This evaluation used an on-line survey and semi-structured telephone interviews about the Nurses Information Newsletter (CNIN), designed to identify what would be useful for nurses to improve their practice and to gain an understanding of how nurses use the newsletter and identify any areas for improvement.
The CNIN is a tool to help nurses with day to day clinical and practice issues, providing information about evidence, research and practice in palliative care. The feedback highlighted a lack of confidence and understanding of evidence based practice concepts amongst nurses, as well as uncertainty about how to use the site’s resources to solve real clinical issues.
The majority of respondents to the on-line survey reported that the Newsletter is an important resource, almost all of them had used it and the associated resources to increase their knowledge and about two thirds have used it to improve their practice. Examples were information about spiritual care, better understanding of evidence-based practice and developing care plans for home use.
The respondents who were telephoned were also very supportive of the CNIN and its identified primary role of providing evidence based information to nurses. The need to get access to reliable evidence quickly and efficiently by nurses was seen as an important and necessary function in improving practice in palliative care services.
Almost a quarter of the respondents to the on-line survey did not identify themselves as having a nursing role, suggesting that there is a considerable number of non-nursing professionals who are seeking relevant and reliable evidence about palliative care. Developing other ways of getting this information out to that group of clinicians and other professionals, such as through allied health journals, was also identified as an issue to explore.
The telephoned respondents suggested that the in-depth coverage of a topic on a regular basis such as monthly or quarterly may be a useful addition to the current content. The occasional need for a login and password made it not as simple as they would have liked. Another idea was a self-contained version of the CNIN that could be printed out and distributed to an audience that did not have regular access to the internet.
The @CareSearch Newsletter
The @CareSearch Newsletter is produced monthly and is emailed to all registered users of the CareSearch website (in 2010 this number was approximately 1,750). It is also available as a PDF document from the CareSearch website. The purpose of the newsletter is to update the palliative care community on the latest developments relating to the website.
The survey was designed to test the impact and effectiveness of the newsletter and identify possible areas for improvement. Over half of respondents preferred to receive the newsletter as a stand-alone PDF so it could be printed and shared, with the preferred size between 1 and 4 pages.
Less than half of the respondents reported that the newsletter had enabled them to make changes in palliative care practice, and of these, only a third (about one eighth of total respondents) reported that they had been able to use the information from the @Caresearch newsletter to change practice within their service. This is consistent with the literature which indicates that passive dissemination of information tends to be ineffective with, at best, only small changes in practice. About one third of respondents thought that the newsletter needed to change but few suggestions were made on how to do this.
The Knowledge Network Research Data Management System
This evaluation project was an on-line survey and semi-structured telephone interviews about the Research Data Management System (RDMS). The RDMS is a multi-site research platform that has been developed to support research work within palliative care by providing access to a tool that:
- Enables the online design of data collection forms and questionnaires
- Allows for web-based and email-based form completion
- Enables data entry from multiple sites with a single co-ordinating site
- Provides for basic reporting of results with features such as percentages, graphs, and tables
- Allows export of data to other programs such as Excel, Access or SPSS.
The platform was launched in 2005 and in 2010 had approximately 250 registered users accessing over 100 active surveys or forms in use in various research projects. The RDMS supports research groups working in all Australian jurisdictions, some of which have international partners. The platform is used for clinical trials, feedback surveys, audit activities and workforce related activities.
Feedback from the on-line survey was very positive about the RDMS, with 90% saying they would recommend the RDMS to others. Respondents were pleased with the support provided by the CareSearch team to users when they needed assistance. So, part of the success of the RDMS was attributed to the support provided by the team to responding to user problems and issues, especially with a workforce that has not traditionally been “data-aware”.