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Alpha test results for a Housing First eLearning strategy: the value of multiple qualitative methods for intervention design

By Emily Q. Ahonen, Dennis P. Watson, Erin L. Adams and Alan McGuire


Abstract Background Detailed descriptions of implementation strategies are lacking, and there is a corresponding dearth of information regarding methods employed in implementation strategy development. This paper describes methods and findings related to the alpha testing of eLearning modules developed as part of the Housing First Technical Assistance and Training (HFTAT) program’s development. Alpha testing is an approach for improving the quality of a product prior to beta (i.e., real world) testing with potential applications for intervention development. Methods Ten participants in two cities tested the modules. We collected data through (1) a structured log where participants were asked to record their experiences as they worked through the modules; (2) a brief online questionnaire delivered at the end of each module; and (3) focus groups. Results The alpha test provided useful data related to the acceptability and feasibility of eLearning as an implementation strategy, as well as identifying a number of technical issues and bugs. Each of the qualitative methods used provided unique and valuable information. In particular, logs were the most useful for identifying technical issues, and focus groups provided high quality data regarding how the intervention could best be used as an implementation strategy. Conclusions Alpha testing was a valuable step in intervention development, providing us an understanding of issues that would have been more difficult to address at a later stage of the study. As a result, we were able to improve the modules prior to pilot testing of the entire HFTAT. Researchers wishing to alpha test interventions prior to piloting should balance the unique benefits of different data collection approaches with the need to minimize burdens for themselves and participants

Topics: Implementation strategy, Intervention development, Housing First, eLearning, Digital badging, Community of practice, Medicine (General), R5-920
Publisher: BMC
Year: 2017
DOI identifier: 10.1186/s40814-017-0187-y
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