What is Implementation Science?

Guidelines and evidence inform best practices, but getting evidence-based and guideline-concordant practices into usual care clinics is not easy. Over the years, clinical administrators and clinicians have developed strategies to try to improve implementation and uptake of these practices and, with time, researchers have tested these strategies to see which are most effective. This work has built a “science for the implementation.” A well accepted definition of implementation science is “the scientific study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of research findings and other evidence-based practices into routine practice, and hence, to improve the quality and effectiveness of health services.” Implementation strategies aimed at the provider level might include education, skill building, monitoring/feedback, and performance incentives. At the organizational level strategies might include system reorganization, use of informatics, or learning collaboratives. There are now implementation frameworks that assist in identifying areas to intervene and targets for the implementation science strategies. Some of the more referenced frameworks include the CFIR: Consolidated Framework for Research (CFIR); the RE-AIM: Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance; and the PARiHS: Promoting Action on Research Implementation.

An excellent beginner’s introduction to implementation science can be found at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4573926/

A recent review of implementation frameworks can be found at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4364490/

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