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, 15 (4), 389-400

Close to the Bench as Well as at the Bedside: Involving Service Users in All Phases of Translational Research


Close to the Bench as Well as at the Bedside: Involving Service Users in All Phases of Translational Research

Felicity Callard et al. Health Expect.


Aim: The paper aims to develop a model of translational research in which service user and other stakeholder involvement are central to each phase.

Background: 'Translational' is the current medical buzzword: translational research has been termed 'bench to bedside' research and promises to fast-track biomedical advances in the service of patient benefit. Models usually conceive of translational research as a 'pipeline' that is divided into phases: the early phase is characterized as the province of basic scientists and laboratory-based clinical researchers; the later phases focus on the implementation, dissemination and diffusion of health applications. If service user involvement is mentioned, it is usually restricted to these later phases.

Methods: The paper critically reviews existing literature on translational research and medicine. The authors develop a theoretical argument that addresses why a reconceptualization of translational research is required on scientific, ethical and pragmatic grounds.

Results: The authors reconceptualize the model of translational research as an interlocking loop rather than as a pipeline, one in which service user and other stakeholder involvement feed into each of its elements. The authors demonstrate that for the 'interlocking loop' model of translational research to be materialized in practice will require changes in how health research is structured and organized.

Conclusion: The authors demonstrate the scientific, ethical and pragmatic benefits of involving service users in every phase of translational research. The authors' reconceptualized model of translational research contributes to theoretical and policy debates regarding both translational research and service user involvement.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Models of translational research: The orthodox pipeline. (a) Translating research to reduce the burden of cancer: The translation continuum. Source: Suzanne H Reuben, for President’s Cancer Panel (2005) Translating Research into Cancer Care: Delivering on the Promise. 2004–2005 Annual Report: National Cancer Institute, US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.‐05rpt/ReportTrans.pdf (accessed 28 August 2009) [Permission for reproduction received from US Cancer Panel]. (b) The Translational Research Process: From Mind to Market. Source: The Wellcome Trust, What is Translational Research? [Permission for reproduction received from Wellcome Trust].‐transfer/WTD027704.htm (accessed 30 August 2009). (c) Reconceptualized model of translational research that embeds service user and stakeholder involvement in all phases.

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