Embracing policy implementation science to ensure translation of evidence to cancer control policy

Transl Behav Med. 2021 Nov 30;11(11):1972-1979. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibab147.

Abstract

Although health-related policies are abundant, efforts to understand how to ensure that these policies serve as an effective vehicle for translating scientific evidence are relatively sparse. This paper explores how policy-focused implementation science (IS) may contribute to understanding the translation of scientific evidence to health-related policy in governmental and nongovernmental sectors. Expanding the focus of implementation science in cancer control could systematically address policy to both increase the use of scientific evidence in general and to address health equity. In this Commentary, we look to relevant work outside of IS that could be informative, most notably from the field of political science. We propose several ideas for future research that could help move the field of policy implementation science in cancer control in the USA forward. Although most efforts to increase uptake of the scientific evidence base reference translation to "practice and policy," there has been relatively little emphasis in the USA on implementation at the policy level, especially related to cancer control. If we are to achieve the full benefits of scientific discovery on population and public health, we will need to consider policy as a critical mechanism by which evidence can be translated to practice. We have a robust set of methods within implementation science that are increasing the pace of adoption and maintenance of evidence-based programs in a variety of settings. Building on these efforts, the time is right to expand our focus to include policy implementation.

Keywords: Cancer control; Evidence translation; Implementation science; Policy.

Plain language summary

Although health-related policies are abundant, relatively few efforts have been undertaken to ensure that they are used as a way to translate scientific evidence to promote health. This paper explores how policy-focused implementation science (IS) may contribute to understanding the translation of scientific evidence to health-related policy in governmental and nongovernmental sectors. We propose several ideas for future research that could help move the field of policy implementation science in cancer control in the USA forward. We have a robust set of methods within implementation science that are increasing the pace of adoption and maintenance of evidence-based programs in a variety of settings. Building on these efforts, the time is right to expand our methods to include policy implementation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Health Equity*
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Implementation Science
  • Neoplasms* / prevention & control