Establishing an AHRQ Learning Collaborative, A White Paper

Appendix D. Sample Interview Protocol

AHRQ Learning Collaborative Interview Protocol

Pre-Doctoral Trainee

A working group is exploring the establishment of a learning collaborative across AHRQ-funded Institutional Health Services Research Training Programs (T-32s). The AHRQ Learning Collaborative is an effort to foster an ongoing dialogue among program directors, current and past pre-doctoral and postdoctoral AHRQ trainees, program faculty, and AHRQ leadership. Our aim is to become increasingly responsive to current challenges and opportunities experienced by participants and leaders in these training programs.

The purpose of the collaborative is to capture and leverage existing knowledge and experience about the programs. By sharing innovations and effective training practices and by enhancing communication across programs, we hope to deepen our understanding of the core competencies and operating strategies of programs that train future scholars in health services research. To better understand the unique needs, preferences, and challenges of AHRQ training programs with respect to this collaborative, we would like to ask you a series of questions. Thank you in advance for offering your ideas.

Background (pre-doctoral trainee)

  • Please indicate the name of your institution/program.
  • How did you first hear about the AHRQ training program?
    • Prompts:
      • How are your interests aligned with the AHRQ training program?
  • After you complete your doctorate, what are your plans?

Purpose of the AHRQ Learning Collaborative

  • What should be the main focus of the AHRQ Learning Collaborative? (We would like to know what functions the AHRQ Learning Collaborative should serve)
    • Prompts:
      • A learning/knowledge collaborative (e.g. continuous learning and sharing of knowledge across institutions).
      • A problem-oriented collaborative (e.g. focused on solving one specific problem at a time).
      • An action-learning collaborative (learn-and-do cycle).
        • Example: this type of collaborative would be useful for implementing new practices and/or improving the effectiveness of existing practices. It is akin to the IHI Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle.
  • What objectives do you think are accomplishable by an AHRQ Learning Collaborative in the short-term? The long-term?
  • Do you have any specific immediate needs (e.g. skills training, professional development, job placements, other), opportunities, or challenges you believe the collaborative can address?
    • Prompts:
      • Consider what you would like to improve, enhance, or change in your current program that may be available in another program.
      • Increase collaborative opportunities across programs.
      • Create a stronger network of AHRQ-trained health services researchers.
      • Share curricula across programs.
      • Other.
    • Could you order these needs/opportunities/challenges from most to least urgent (or short-term to long-term)?
  • Have you communicated these needs to anyone within your program or outside of your program?
    • Prompts:
      • With whom?
        • Program director.
        • Peers within your program.
        • Peers outside of your program.
        • AHRQ.
        • Other?
      • What prompted you to discuss these needs with these individuals?
  • What barriers to change do you perceive within your institution?
  • Would you be interested in discussing your needs, opportunities, and challenges with other AHRQ programs?
  • What would you like to learn about other programs through this collaborative?
    • Prompts:
      • Program structure.
      • Curricula.
      • Opportunities for research collaboration.
      • Practical issues (e.g., connecting trainees to researchers/projects).
      • Other.

Target Audience and Participation

  • Whom do you see as the target audience(s) for this collaborative?
    • Prompts:
      • Program directors.
      • Pre-doctoral trainees.
      • Postdoctoral trainees.
      • Faculty.
      • Other.
      • All of the above.
  • Why do you see this/these as the target audience(s)?
    • Prompt:
      • Is there something particular (i.e., a particular issue/concern/missing link) about this/these target audience(s) that the collaborative can help with?
  • How do you think we can get more (trainees, directors, programs) on board with this initiative?
    • Prompts:
      • What types of initiatives or activities might stimulate interest among your fellow trainees at your institution?
      • What about your fellow trainees outside your institution?
  • Who might be some potential leaders of the AHRQ Learning Collaborative? How do you see them as leaders?
    • Prompts:
      • At your institution (peers, faculty, program director).
      • Outside your institution.

Measuring Success

  • How would we know the collaborative is working?
    • Prompts:
      • Refer back to the objectives mentioned by the participant—how could we measure whether we accomplish these objectives?
      • How could we measure success?
        • Initial/baseline and followup: A survey of network "strength" (e.g., frequency, duration, and type of contact)?
        • Plan-Do-Study-Act model?
  • How could we ensure accountability?
  • Who would be responsible for holding the collaborative accountable for accomplishing its goals?

Best Practices

  • Please describe innovations or current best practices at your institution that you would like to share with other programs through this collaborative.
    • Prompts:
      • Think about training styles, methodologies, courses, other opportunities.
  • How did these innovations or best practices develop?
    • Prompts:
      • Was there a specific problem identified?
      • How was it identified?
  • How are these innovations/best practices sustained?
    • Prompts:
      • Who was critical to this effort?
      • Would they be willing to speak with us, and would you be willing to facilitate contact?
  • What are your suggestions for ensuring sustainability?
  • Do you know of any examples of similar collaboratives and best practices from health care or other fields that may be useful for the development of an AHRQ Learning Collaborative? If so, could you tell us about them?
    • Prompts:
      • Can ask if know about IHI model (problem-focused) and ask their thoughts.

Communication Through the Collaborative

  • What mechanisms for communication and sharing would you like to see used as part of this collaborative?
    • Prompts:
      • Web-based communication tools.
      • In-person events.
      • Working groups around specific research topics.
      • Other?
  • Which method(s) of communication are you most likely to use? What has worked in the past for you?
  • How often do you currently communicate with other AHRQ programs?
    • Prompts:
      • Which programs?
      • For what purpose(s)?
  • How frequently could you imagine purposefully interacting with other AHRQ programs?
  • What are your thoughts regarding regional AHRQ collaboratives?

Thoughts on the AHRQ Training Program

  • What is your overall impression of AHRQ training program?
    • Prompts:
      • How well did it meet your expectations prior to entering the program?
      • Do you feel you have received the training necessary to pursue your desired career path?
  • What factors contribute to a great experience within the AHRQ training program?
  • What factors get in the way of a great experience?
  • What specific recommendations do you have to enhance the training experience within the AHRQ program?
  • Can you think of any additional systems, actions, or programs that need to be implemented to support these recommendations?


  • Are there other trainees within your program who might be interested in speaking with us about the AHRQ Learning Collaborative?
    • Followup:
      • Can you facilitate contact?
Page last reviewed October 2014
Page originally created March 2012
Internet Citation: Appendix D. Sample Interview Protocol. Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.