Background: The field of dissemination and implementation (D&I) research has grown immensely in recent years. However, the field of dissemination research has not coalesced to the same degree as the field of implementation research. To advance the field of dissemination research, this review aimed to (1) identify the extent to which dissemination frameworks are used in dissemination empirical studies, (2) examine how scholars define dissemination, and (3) identify key constructs from dissemination frameworks.
Methods: To achieve aims 1 and 2, we conducted a scoping review of dissemination studies published in D&I science journals. The search strategy included manuscripts published from 1985 to 2020. Articles were included if they were empirical quantitative or mixed methods studies about the dissemination of information to a professional audience. Studies were excluded if they were systematic reviews, commentaries or conceptual papers, scale-up or scale-out studies, qualitative or case studies, or descriptions of programs. To achieve aim 1, we compiled the frameworks identified in the empirical studies. To achieve aim 2, we compiled the definitions from dissemination from frameworks identified in aim 1 and from dissemination frameworks identified in a 2021 review (Tabak RG, Am J Prev Med 43:337-350, 2012). To achieve aim 3, we compile the constructs and their definitions from the frameworks.
Findings: Out of 6017 studies, 89 studies were included for full-text extraction. Of these, 45 (51%) used a framework to guide the study. Across the 45 studies, 34 distinct frameworks were identified, out of which 13 (38%) defined dissemination. There is a lack of consensus on the definition of dissemination. Altogether, we identified 48 constructs, divided into 4 categories: process, determinants, strategies, and outcomes. Constructs in the frameworks are not well defined.
Implication for d&i research: This study provides a critical step in the dissemination research literature by offering suggestions on how to define dissemination research and by cataloging and defining dissemination constructs. Strengthening these definitions and distinctions between D&I research could enhance scientific reproducibility and advance the field of dissemination research.
Keywords: Dissemination; Dissemination research; Frameworks.
© 2022. The Author(s).