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Implementation of low-intensity thrombolysis monitoring care in routine practice: process evaluation of the Optimal Post rtPA-IV Monitoring in Acute Ischemic Stroke (OPTIMISTmain) study in the United States.

INTRODUCTION: The ongoing OPTIMISTmain study, an international, multicenter, stepped-wedge cluster randomized trial, aims to determine effectiveness and safety of low-intensity versus standard monitoring in thrombolysis-treated patients with mild-to-moderate acute ischemic stroke (AIS). An embedded process evaluation explored integration and impact of the intervention on care processes at participating US sites.

METHODS: A mixed-methods approach with quantitative and qualitative data were collected between September 2021 and November 2022. Implementer surveys were undertaken at pre- and post-intervention phases to understand the perceptions of low-intensity monitoring strategy. A sample of stroke care nurses were invited to participate in semi-structured interviews at an early stage of post-intervention. Qualitative data were analyzed deductively using the normalization process theory; quantitative data were tabulated.

RESULTS: Interviews with 21 nurses at 8 hospitals have shown low-intensity monitoring was well accepted, as there were less time constraints and reduced workload for each patient. There were initial safety concerns over missing deteriorating patients and difficulties in changing established routines. Proper training, education, and communication, and changing the habits and culture of care, were key elements to successfully adopting the new monitoring care into routine practice. Similar results were found in the post-intervention survey (42 nurses from 13 hospitals). Nurses reported time being freed up to provide patient education (56%), daily living care (50%), early mobilization (26%), mood/cognition assessment (44%), and other aspects (i.e. communication, family support).

CONCLUSIONS: Low-intensity monitoring for patients with mild-to-moderate acute ischemic stroke, facilitated by appropriate education and organizational support, appears feasible and acceptable at US hospitals.

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