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School of Public Health


Health Policy, Management & Leadership



Telehealth interventions offer an evidenced-based approach to providing cost-effective care, education, and timely communication at a distance. Yet, despite its widespread use, telehealth has not reached full potential, especially in rural areas, due to the complex process of designing and implementing telehealth programs. The objective of this paper is to explore the use of a theory-based approach, the Model for Developing Complex Interventions in Nursing, to design a pilot telehealth intervention program for a rural population with multiple chronic conditions.


In order to develop a robust, evidenced based intervention that suits the needs of the community, stakeholders, and healthcare agencies involved, a design team comprised of state representatives, telehealth experts, and patient advocates was convened. Each design team meeting was guided by major model constructs (i.e., problem identification, defining the target population and objectives, measurement theory selection, building and planning the intervention protocol). Overarching the process was a review of the literature to ensure that the developed intervention was congruent with evidence-based practice and underlying the entire process was scope of practice considerations.


Ten design team meetings were held over a six-month period. An adaptive pilot intervention targeting home and community-based Medicaid Waiver Program participants in a rural environment with a primary objective of preventing re-institutionalizations was developed and accepted for implementation. To promote intervention effectiveness, asynchronous (i.e., remote patient monitoring) and synchronous (i.e., nursing assessment of pain and mental health and care coordination) telehealth approaches were selected to address the multiple comorbidities of the target population. An economic evaluation plan was developed and included in the pilot program to assess intervention cost efficiency.


The Model for Developing Complex Interventions in Nursing provided a simple, structured process for designing a multifaceted telehealth intervention to minimize re-institutionalization of participants with multiple chronic conditions. This structured process may promote efficient development of other complex telehealth interventions in time and resource constrained settings. This paper provides detailed examples of how the model was operationalized.

Source Citation

Davis, S.M., Jones, A., Jaynes, M.E. et al. Designing a multifaceted telehealth intervention for a rural population using a model for developing complex interventions in nursing. BMC Nurs 19, 9 (2020).


Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

This article received support from the WVU Libraries' Open Access Author Fund.

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