Objective risk assessment vs standard care for acute coronary syndromes—The Australian GRACE Risk tool Implementation Study (AGRIS): a process evaluation

Janice Gullick, John Wu, Derek Chew, Chris Gale, Andrew T. Yan, Shaun G. Goodman, Donna Waters, Karice Hyun, David Brieger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Structured risk-stratification to guide clinician assessment and engagement with evidence-based therapies may reduce care variance and improve patient outcomes for Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS). The Australian Grace Risk score Intervention Study (AGRIS) explored the impact of the GRACE Risk Tool for stratification of ischaemic and bleeding risk in ACS. While hospitals in the active arm had a higher overall rate of invasive ACS management, there was neutral impact on important secondary prevention prescriptions/referrals, hospital performance measures, myocardial infarction and 12-month mortality leading to early trial cessation. Given the Grace Risk Tool is under investigation internationally, this process evaluation study provides important insights into the possible contribution of implementation fidelity on the AGRIS study findings. Methods: Using maximum variation sampling, five hospitals were selected from the 12 centres enrolled in the active arm of AGRIS. From these facilities, 16 local implementation stakeholders (Cardiology advanced practice nurses, junior and senior doctors, study coordinators) consented to a semi-structured interview guided by the Theoretical Domains Framework. Directed Content Analysis of qualitative data was structured using the Capability/Opportunity/Motivation-Behaviour (COM-B) model. Results: Physical capability was enhanced by tool usability. While local stakeholders supported educating frontline clinicians, non-cardiology clinicians struggled with specialist terminology. Physical opportunity was enhanced by the paper-based format but was hampered when busy clinicians viewed risk-stratification as one more thing to do, or when form visibility was neglected. Social opportunity was supported by a culture of research/evidence yet challenged by clinical workflow and rotating medical officers. Automatic motivation was strengthened by positive reinforcement. Reflective motivation revealed the GRACE Risk Tool as supporting but potentially overriding clinical judgment. Divergent professional roles and identity were a major barrier to integration of risk-stratification into routine Emergency Department practice. The cumulative result revealed poor form completion behaviors and a failure to embed risk-stratification into routine patient assessment, communication, documentation, and clinical practice behaviors. Conclusions: Numerous factors negatively influenced AGRIS implementation fidelity. Given the prominence of risk assessment recommendations in United States, European and Australian guidelines, strategies that strengthen collaboration with Emergency Departments and integrate automated processes for risk-stratification may improve future translation internationally.

Original languageEnglish
Article number380
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2022


  • Acute coronary syndromes
  • Behaviour Change Wheel
  • COM-B
  • GRACE Risk Tool
  • Implementation
  • Implementation fidelity
  • Process evaluation
  • Quality of care
  • Risk stratification
  • Theoretical Domains Framework


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