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Using implementation science to develop a familial hypercholesterolemia screening program in primary care: The CARE-FH study.

BACKGROUND: We designed the Collaborative Approach to Reach Everyone with familial hypercholesterolemia (CARE-FH) clinical trial to improve FH screening in primary care and facilitate guideline-based care.

OBJECTIVE: The goal was to incorporate perspectives from end-users (healthcare system leaders, primary care clinicians, cardiologists, genetic counselors, nurses, and clinic staff) and improve translation of screening guidance into practice.

METHODS: We partnered with end-users to sequentially define the current state of FH screening, assess acceptability, feasibility, and appropriateness of implementing an FH screening program, and select clinically actionable strategies at the patient-, clinician-, and system-level to be deployed as a package in the CARE-FH clinical trial. Methods informed by implementation science and human centered design included: contextual inquiries, surveys, and deliberative engagement sessions.

RESULTS: Screening for FH occurred rarely in primary care, and then only after a cardiovascular event or sometimes due to a family history of high cholesterol or early heart attack. Surveys suggested FH screening in primary care was acceptable, appropriate, and feasible. Reported and observed barriers to screening include insufficient time at patient encounters to screen, cost and convenience of testing for patients, and knowledge regarding causes of dyslipidemia. Facilitators included clear guidance on screening criteria and new therapies to treat FH. These results led to the development of multilevel strategies that were presented to end-users, modified, and then pilot tested in one primary care clinic.

CONCLUSIONS: A refined implementation strategy package for FH screening was created with a goal of improving FH awareness, identification, and initiation of guideline-based care.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: Unique Identifier: NCT05284513.

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