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Table 3 Mapping Critical Incident Technique against Realist Methodology-General principles

From: Application of the critical incident technique in refining a realist initial programme theory

Critical incident techniqueAdapting for building IPT as part of Realist Evaluation process
Incident- any human observable activity that is sufficiently complete in itself to permit inferences and predictions to be made about the persons performing the act.Incident- team intervention recalled by KI as either a positive or negative experience that meets the criteria in terms of MDT team and intervention descriptors and as specified in the research therefore has potential to contribute to building the IPT
CIT- A set of procedures for collecting direct observations of human behaviour- to facilitate their usefulness in solving practical problems and developing broad psychological principles.CIT applied- A set of questions in interview format to elicit factual data to answer my question, what works for whom, in what conditions, why, to what extent and how? Deemed to be useful as it will help identify patterns of regularity in the form of CMOCs
Critical incidents obtained from interviews can be relied on to provide a relatively accurate account of job performance.Specific accounts of positive and negative experiences of team interventions obtained from interviews and can be relied on to provide a relatively accurate account of team interventions.
A set of procedures for analysing and synthesising into a number of relationships that can be tested in more controlled conditions.A set of procedures for analysing and synthesising into a number of chains of inferences (CMOCs) that can be tested- the IPT will form the basis for further testing
Obtains a record of specific behaviours.Obtains a record of contexts, mechanisms and outcomes relating to the team intervention.
From those in the best position to make the necessary observations and evaluationsFrom Key informants (participants)- healthcare workers working in multi-disciplinary teams with experience of team interventions in the acute hospital context.
Incident deemed to be critical- where the purpose or intent of the act seems to be fairly clear to the observer and where consequences are sufficiently definite to leave little doubt concerning its effects.Incident deemed to be critical-A team intervention recalled by the participant as either a significant positive or negative experience that meets research criteria in terms of multi-disciplinary team and team intervention and therefore has potential to contribute to building the IPT
Recall of factual incidentsRecall of factual incidents
Principal objective of job analysis procedures should be the determination of critical requirements, i.e., those that have made the difference between success and failure in carrying out an important part of the jobPrincipal objective of the analysis procedures in this instance will be the determination of critical enablers and barriers for team interventions
Essentially a procedure for gathering certain important facts concerning behaviour in defined situationsEssentially a procedure for gathering certain important facts concerning behaviour in defined situations.
Certain more difficult judgments are required regarding the relevance of various conditions and actions on the observed success in attaining the defined purpose of the activity.Certain more difficult judgments will be required and the research team, the advisory team, and realist support group will be “used” to help in the judgment process of relevance of various conditions on enactment of mechanisms and outcomes
The incidents must be studied in the light of relevant established principles of human behaviour and of the known facts regarding background factors and conditions operating in the specific situation. From this total picture, the total hypotheses are formulated.The incidents must be studied in the light of relevant established principles of human behaviour and of the known facts regarding background factors and conditions operating in the specific situation. The interaction of the key informants with the resources on offer by the various contextual conditions impacts their reasoning and mechanisms enacted and subsequent outcomes- From this total picture, CMOCs are extrapolated and can be interpreted as plausible hypotheses/theories