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Implementation research – its importance and application in primary care

Moving evidence from theoretical to practical levels requires a collaborative effort

The gap between what we know can optimise health care outcomes and what is everyday practice, remains a major challenge for health systems.1 Implementation research seeks to close this gap by using scientific methodologies to support the movement of research-based evidence into policy and practice.2,3 Sometimes used interchangeably with the terms translational research and implementation science, implementation research seeks to understand and maximise the uptake of quality research by potential users — in our case, the busy and complex clinical and health service environment. Interest in primary care-based implementation research is growing rapidly, as governments seek to maximise investment in research for its citizens.4

Last year, the Strategic review of health and medical research — better health through research (the McKeon Review) made 21 recommendations for improving the nation’s research quality and productivity. A focus on implementation research was central, with “strengthened partnerships between researchers, health professionals and the community”, facilitated “translation of research into evidence-based healthcare and policy”…