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2015 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

1090 — Fostering Constructive Research-Operations Partnerships: Qualitative Findings from VA’s Quality Enhancement Research Initiative Evaluation

Bergman AA, VA Greater Los Angeles; Delevan DM, VA Greater Los Angeles; Miake-Lye IM, VA Greater Los Angeles; Rubenstein LV, VA Greater Los Angeles; Ganz DA, VA Greater Los Angeles;

In healthcare settings, research and operations personnel partner to conduct research and implement best practices to improve the quality of patient care. Each side (research and operations) has a type of knowledge and experience that the other lacks; health services researchers often lack the tacit knowledge that comes from day-to-day experience in operations settings, whereas those working in operations are not always trained in the methods of research that might lead to more effective solutions to their specific problems. However, the nature of research and operations personnel's experiences with and expectations for mutual collaboration is little understood. Our objective was to examine the nature of research-operations partnerships in the Veterans Health Administration's (VHA) Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI).

We conducted an inductive qualitative analysis of 89 one-on-one semi-structured interviews with key research and operations stakeholders. These interviews were conducted as part of an evaluation of the QUERI program, designed to collect information on stakeholder perspectives of experience with QUERI leadership and investigators.

We identified two main tensions in research-operations partnerships: 1) delineating partnership versus sponsorship and 2) scientific rigor and integrity versus quick timelines. A particularly important facilitator to effective partnerships, as perceived by key operations stakeholders, was for each side to actively seek understanding of the perspectives and priorities of the other. Research stakeholders identified moving beyond the need for recognition as an important facilitator to partnership. Stakeholders from both sides viewed jointly designing the partnership, reducing the research bureaucracy burdens, and prioritizing face-to-face/personal contact as additional facilitators.

Although participants experienced tensions in their partnership experiences stemming from differing incentives, career trajectories and priorities, both research and operations participants articulated and expressed agreement on several important facilitators that can make partnerships succeed.

In an era when the VA and other integrated health care systems are shifting to partner-based implementation research, these findings provide a framework for how healthcare research and operations personnel can effectively partner and share their unique knowledge with one another to improve the quality of patient care. Such a framework can serve as a roadmap for future partnerships in the VHA healthcare system and beyond.