HSR Special Issue on the Importance of Research Translation
Science fails to make a real-world impact on health without adequate investment in implementation science – the study of strategies that promote the uptake of research into clinical practice. Healthcare organizations need to embrace both implementation science and community-engaged research methods to best identify, evaluate, and sustain the most impactful programs and policies to improve population health and reduce disparities in care. Further, passage of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (or Evidence Act) provides an ideal opportunity to ensure programs and policies work for communities, by integrating implementation science and community-engaged research methods into evidence-building and evaluation initiatives.
This special issue of Health Services Research features innovative, cutting-edge research that addresses the intersection of evidence-based policy evaluation, implementation science, and community engagement. Featuring several VA HSR&D and QUERI investigators, the ultimate goal is to highlight emerging scientific work that helps bridge the gap between generating evidence and making policy changes. Articles include, but are not limited to:
- Reger et al., and Bokhour et al., apply implementation science and community engagement methods to rigorously assess impacts of policies on Veteran outcomes related to suicide prevention and person-centered care (“Whole Health”).
- Braganza and colleagues, as well as Daumit and colleagues, present novel funding mechanisms from VA/HSR&D’s Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI), including the new QUERI Evidence Act lifecycle, and NIH Disparities Elimination through Coordinated Interventions to Prevent and Control Heart and Lung Disease Risk (DECIPHeR) programs that focus on using community input and the experiences of individuals to inform research priorities and implementation methods to improve health equity.
- Pearson and colleagues and Leykum and colleagues describe research that included communities and partners to help inform policies that will improve Veterans’ access to care as well as their long-term outcomes.
- Zivin and colleagues present policy research focused on the healthcare workforce, especially when faced with potential provider burnout and labor shortages.
Funded by HSR&D and edited by Amy Kilbourne, PhD, MPH, Director of VA’s Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI); Melissa Garrido, PhD, Associate Director, VA Partnered Evidence-based Policy Resource Center (PEPReC); and Arlene Brown, MD, PhD, Chief, General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, this special issue of HSR underscores the importance of a translational research agenda that uses mixed-methods approaches, broader data collection efforts, rapid but rigorous methods, and expanded funding resources. Many communities and organizations cannot wait for the evidence to address a policy need. In these situations, novel implementation science methods can shorten the translation timeline without sacrificing the quality of the science. In addition, community engagement can improve our understanding of how programs and policies work at the local level. Effective evidence-based policymaking requires a better understanding of the impact of programs or policies—not only whether they work, but how they work and for whom, and what it will take to sustain them in the real world.
Health Services Research. Special issue “Translating Research into Policy and Action,” May 16, 2022;57(S1):1-157.