Implementation research: a critical component of realizing the benefits of comparative effectiveness research

Am J Med. 2010 Dec;123(12 Suppl 1):e38-45. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2010.10.007.


Comparative effectiveness research (CER) holds the promise of improving patient-centered care and increasing value in the healthcare system. Achieving these goals, however, depends on effectively implementing the findings of CER. In this article, we draw on lessons from implementation research and our experience in the Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare system to offer recommendations about what is needed to support implementation of CER. There is no single strategy for successful implementation. Implementation efforts must take into account the nature of the evidence, the type of change being implemented, the clinical context in which the findings are being applied, and the specific barriers and facilitators to implementing new practices. The experience of the VA illustrates the importance of taking a systems approach that aligns numerous elements of the healthcare system--guidelines, decision support, performance measures, financial incentives, coverage and benefits policy, and health information technology--to support implementation:. We illustrate these principles with an example of implementing a new model of evidence-based depression care.

MeSH terms

  • Comparative Effectiveness Research*
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Depression / therapy
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Research Design*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs*
  • Veterans*