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This article is the author's final published version in Implementation Science Communciations, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2024, Article number 16.

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BACKGROUND: Facilitation is an implementation strategy that supports the uptake of evidence-based practices. Recently, use of virtual facilitation (VF), or the application of facilitation using primarily video-based conferencing technologies, has become more common, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Thorough assessment of the literature on VF, however, is lacking. This scoping review aimed to identify and describe conceptual definitions of VF, evaluate the consistency of terminology, and recommend "best" practices for its use as an implementation strategy.

METHODS: We conducted a scoping review to identify literature on VF following the PRISMA-ScR guidance. A search of PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and CINAHL databases was conducted in June 2022 for English language articles published from January 2012 through May 2022 and repeated in May 2023 for articles published from January 2012 through April 2023. Identified articles, including studies and conference abstracts describing VF, were uploaded into Covidence and screened independently by two reviewers. Data extraction was done by two reviewers in Microsoft Excel; additionally, studies were evaluated based on the Proctor et al. (2013) reporting guidelines for specifying details of implementation strategies.

RESULTS: The search strategy identified 19 articles. After abstract and full-text screening, eight studies described by 10 articles/abstracts were included in analysis. Best practices summarized across studies included (1) stakeholder engagement, (2) understanding the recipient's organization, (3) facilitator training, (4) piloting, (5) evaluating facilitation, (6) use of group facilitation to encourage learning, and (7) integrating novel tools for virtual interaction. Three papers reported all or nearly all components of the Proctor et al. reporting guidelines; justification for use of VF was the most frequently omitted.

CONCLUSIONS: This scoping review evaluated available literature on use of VF as a primary implementation strategy and identified significant variability on how VF is reported, including inconsistent terminology, lack of details about how and why it was conducted, and limited adherence to published reporting guidelines. These inconsistencies impact generalizability of these methods by preventing replicability and full understanding of this emerging methodology. More work is needed to develop and evaluate best practices for effective VF to promote uptake of evidence-based interventions.


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