Implementation science seeks to minimise the delay between research evidence making its way into clinical practice.
It is well known that evidence-based practices can take years to come into routine use within health and social care. This gap between research and practice has led to the development of a field of science specifically looking at the most effective ways of implementing research, ie implementation science.
Find out more about what it entails on this page, and how you can start to narrow the gap between using research evidence in practice yourself.
Implementation science terminology
The terminology used within implementation science can be quite confusing: similar sounding terms can in fact have different meanings. To this end, see a paper in BioMed Central's Psychology Journal, which has guidance on terminology, principles and methods:
An introduction to implementation science for the non-specialist Bauer et al. BMC Psychology (2015) 3:32
Useful NHS organisations
Evidence-based practices take on average 17 years to be incorporated into routine general practice in health care
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) both have implementation agendas.
The NIHR has set up a programme called the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs). 13 CLAHRCs cover different regions across England and play an important role in translating research findings into improved outcomes for patients. Different CLAHRCs have different priorities, so it's best to visit your local CLAHRC website to familiarise yourself with what they are doing: see more about them on the NIHR website.
HIS is part of NHS Scotland and its primary aim is to encourage and support continuous improvement in healthcare practice. Some of the resources available on the HIS website are applicable to practice across the UK, not just Scotland. More details can be found on the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website.
There are many online resources available on implementation and they offer a range of different approaches. Use the three examples below to see how they differ and then choose the one most suitable for your setting and desired change:
- East Midlands CLAHRC: Guide to implementing change
- Center for Research in Implementation Science and Prevention: Users guide to dissemination and implementation in health for researchers and practitioners (University of Colorado)
- National Institute for Health Research: Better services by design
There are an increasing number of journals available that have a particular focus on implementation. Use the four suggestions below to get started: