Background: The publication of Best research for best health in 2006 and the "ring-fencing" of health research funding in England marked the start of a period of change for health research governance and the structure of research funding in England. One response to bridging the 'second translational gap' between research knowledge and clinical practice was the establishment of nine Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs). The goal of this paper is to assess how national-level understanding of the aims and objectives of the CLAHRCs translated into local implementation and practice in North West London.
Methods: This study uses a variation of Goffman's frame analysis to trace the development of the initial national CLAHRC policy to its implementation at three levels. Data collection and analysis were qualitative through interviews, document analysis and embedded research.
Results: Analysis at the macro (national policy), meso (national programme) and micro (North West London) levels shows a significant common understanding of the aims and objectives of the policy and programme. Local level implementation in North West London was also consistent with these.
Conclusions: The macro-meso-micro frame analysis is a useful way of studying the transition of a policy from high-level idea to programme in action. It could be used to identify differences at a local (micro) level in the implementation of multi-site programmes that would help understand differences in programme effectiveness.