Implementing Implementation Research: Teaching Implementation Research to HIV Researchers

Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2021 Jun;18(3):186-197. doi: 10.1007/s11904-021-00551-4. Epub 2021 Mar 11.


Purpose of review: Given the growth in HIV-related implementation research, there is a need to expand the workforce and rigor through implementation science (IS) training and mentorship. Our objective is to review IS training opportunities for HIV-focused researchers and describe the approach and lessons learned from a recent HIV-related implementation research training initiative.

Recent findings: IS training opportunities range from degree programs to short- and longer-term professional development institutes and community-focused institutional trainings. Until recently, there have not been extensive dedicated opportunities for implementation research training for HIV-focused investigators. To meet this gap, an inter-Center for AIDS Research IS Fellowship for early-stage investigators was launched in 2019, building on lessons learned from dissemination and implementation training programs. Key components of the HIV-focused IS fellowship include didactic training, mentorship, grant-writing, and development of HIV-IS collaborative networks. Fellows to-date were two-thirds junior faculty and one-third post-doctoral fellows, the majority (69%) with prior public health training. Perceived value of the program was high, with a median rating of 9 [IQR 8-9] on a 10-point scale. Overall, 22/27 (81%) Fellows from the first cohort submitted IS-related grants within 12 months of Fellowship completion, and by 1 year 13 grants had been funded among 10 investigators, 37% overall among Fellows. Mentors identified framing of IS questions as the top-ranked training priority for HIV-investigators. Increasing knowledge of the utility of IS may support more grants focused on optimal implementation of HIV treatment and prevention strategies. Experiences from mentors and trainees engaged in an IS-focused fellowship for HIV investigators demonstrate the demand and value of a dedicated training program and reinforce the importance of mentorship.

Keywords: Early-stage investigators; HIV; Implementation science; Mentorship; Training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fellowships and Scholarships
  • HIV Infections* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Implementation Science
  • Mentors