Background: To address the problem of translation from research-based evidence to routine healthcare practice, the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Lincolnshire (CLAHRC-NDL) was funded by the National Institute for Health Research as one of nine CLAHRCs across England. This paper outlines the underlying theory and its application that CLAHRC-NDL has adopted, as a case example that might be generalised to practice outside the CLAHRC, in comparison to alternative models of implementation.
Discussion: Conventional approaches to health research frequently generate evidence in isolation from the environment in which it is intended for use. The premise of the CLAHRC-NDL model is that barriers to implementation can be overcome if knowledge is co-produced by academic and clinical service staff, taking account of the organisational context in which it is to be applied. This approach is founded on organisational learning theory, recognising that change is a social and political phenomenon. Evidence is produced in real time, taking full account of the environment in which it is to be implemented. To support this process, senior health service staff are seconded to the CLAHRC as 'diffusion fellows' (DFs) to actively bridge the research to practice gap by being a full member of both the research team and their area of clinical practice. To facilitate innovation and embed change in the local health community, existing communities of practice are enhanced and new ones are fostered around specific themes. Our approach has been adopted by 16 clinical research studies in the areas of mental health, children and young people, primary care, and stroke rehabilitation.
Summary: The CLAHRC-NDL model of implementation applies organisational learning theory by addressing the social and situational barriers and enablers to implementation, and adopting a philosophy of co-production. Two key mechanisms for translation of innovation have been utilised: DFs, to actively bridge the research to practice gap, and communities of practice, to underpin and sustain improvements in healthcare. The model shows promising results in putting research into practice, which may be transferable to other healthcare contexts.