Contextual barriers to implementation in primary care: An ethnographic study of a programme to improve chronic kidney disease care

Natalie Armstrong*, Georgia Herbert, Liz Brewster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
295 Downloads (Pure)


Background. Context is important in implementation—we know that what works in one setting may not work in the same way elsewhere. Primary care has been described as a unique context both in relation to the care delivered and efforts to carry out research and implementation of new evidence.

Objective. To explore some of the distinctive features of the primary care environment that may influence implementation.

Methods. We conducted an ethnographic study involving observations, interviews and documentary analysis of the ENABLE-CKD project, which involved general practices implementing a chronic kidney disease care bundle and offering self-management support tools to patients. Analysis was based on the constant comparative method.

Results. Four elements of the primary care environment emerged as important influences on the extent to which implementation was successful. First, the nature of delivering care in this setting meant that prioritizing one condition over others was problematic. Second, the lack of alignment with financial and other incentives affected engagement. Third, the project team lacked mechanisms through which engagement could be mandated. Fourth, working relationships within practices impacted on engagement.

Conclusions. Those seeking to implement interventions in primary care need to consider the particular context if they are to secure successful implementation. We suggest that there are particular kinds of interventions, which may be best suited to the primary care context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-431
Number of pages6
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Context
  • General practice
  • Great Britain
  • Implementation
  • Primary health care
  • Qualitative research

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