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Understanding the impact of delegated home visiting services accessed via general practice by community-dwelling patients: a realist review protocol

14 Nov 2018


In western countries, early visiting services (EVS) have been proposed as a recent intervention to reduce both general practitioner workload and hospital admissions among housebound individuals experiencing a healthcare need within the community. EVS involves the delegation of the patient home visits to other staff groups such as paramedics or nursing staff. However, the principles of organising this care are unknown and it remains unclear how different contexts, such as patient conditions and the processes of organising EVS influence care outcomes. A review has been designed to understand how EVS are enacted and, specifically, who benefits, why, how and when in order to provide further insight into the design and delivery of EVS.

Methods and analysis

The purpose of this review is to produce findings that provide explanations of how and why EVS contexts influence their associated outcomes. Evidence on EVS will be consolidated through realist review—a theory-driven approach to evidence synthesis. A realist approach is needed as EVS is a complex intervention. What EVS achieve is likely to vary for different individuals and contexts. We expect to synthesise a range of relevant data such as qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method research in the following stages: devising an initial programme theory, searching evidence, selecting appropriate documents, extracting data, synthesising and refining the programme theory.

Ethics and dissemination

A formal ethics review is not required as this study is secondary research. Findings will be disseminated in a peer-reviewed journal, at national and international conferences and to relevant professional associations.

PROSPERO registration number


Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open