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Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program hubs are well-positioned to advance dissemination and implementation (D&I) research and training capacity nationally, though little is known about what D&I research support and services CTSAs provide. To address this gap, the CTSA Dissemination, Implementation, and Knowledge Transfer Working Group conducted an environmental scan of CTSAs (2017–2018).
Of 67 CTSA institutions, we contacted 43 that previously reported delivering D&I research services. D&I experts from these institutions were emailed a survey assessing D&I resources, services, training, and scientific projects. Responses were categorized and double-coded by study authors using a content analysis approach.
Thirty-five of the 43 D&I experts (81.4%) responded. Challenges to CTSAs in developing and supporting D&I science activities were related to inadequate D&I science workforce (45.7%) and lack of understanding of D&I science (25.7%). Services provided included consultation/mentoring programs (68%), pilot funding/grants (50%), and workshops/seminars/conferences (46%). Training and workforce development in D&I were frequently identified as future priorities. Recommendations included increase training to meet demand (68.6%), accessible D&I tools/resources (34.3%), greater visibility/awareness of D&I methods (34.3%), consultation services (22.9%), and expand D&I science workforce (22.9%).
CTSAs have tremendous potential to support the advancement and impact of D&I science across the translational continuum. Despite the growing presence of D&I science in CTSAs, continued commitment and prioritization are needed from CTSA and institutional leadership to raise awareness of D&I science and its value, meet training demands, and develop necessary infrastructure for conducting D&I science.
The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) has defined translation as the process of turning observations into interventions that are adopted, sustained, and improve health. Translation must attend to research and community systems and context at multiple levels, and to key stakeholders. Dissemination and implementation (D&I) sciences are informed by an understanding of the critical role of people and systems in disseminating, adopting, and sustaining innovations within real-world settings. Thus, the D&I sciences provides a set of principles that can guide the translational work of Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) programs from basic research to public health. In this special communication, our cross-domain working group of the CTSA consortium, comprised of experts in methods and processes, workforce development, evaluation, stakeholder engagement, and D&I sciences, share a vision of how CTSAs can enhance translation across the translational spectrum through the integration of D&I sciences into the critical areas of methods and processes, workforce development, and evaluation. We propose a set of recommendations for NCATS national and local leaders that are intended to move D&I sciences out of a position of unfamiliarity and ancillary value and into the core identity of who CTSAs are, how they think, and what they do, to advance translation and health.
Dissemination and implementation (D&I) science is not a formal element of the Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) Program, and D&I science activities across the CTSA Consortium are largely unknown.
The CTSA Dissemination, Implementation, and Knowledge Translation Working Group surveyed CTSA leaders to explore D&I science-related activities, barriers, and needed supports, then conducted univariate and qualitative analyses of the data.
Out of 67 CTSA leaders, 55.2% responded. CTSAs reported directly funding D&I programs (54.1%), training (51.4%), and projects (59.5%). Indirect support (e.g., promoted by CTSA without direct funding) for D&I activities was higher – programs (70.3%), training (64.9%), and projects (54.1%). Top barriers included funding (39.4%), limited D&I science faculty (30.3%), and lack of D&I science understanding (27.3%). Respondents (63.4%) noted the importance of D&I training and recommended coordination of D&I activities across CTSAs hubs (33.3%).
These findings should guide CTSA leadership in efforts to raise awareness and advance the role of D&I science in improving population health.
The efficient and effective movement of research into practice is acknowledged as crucial to improving population health and assuring return on investment in healthcare research. The National Center for Advancing Translational Science which sponsors Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) recognizes that dissemination and implementation (D&I) sciences have matured over the last 15 years and are central to its goals to shift academic health institutions to better align with this reality. In 2016, the CTSA Collaboration and Engagement Domain Task Force chartered a D&I Science Workgroup to explore the role of D&I sciences across the translational research spectrum. This special communication discusses the conceptual distinctions and purposes of dissemination, implementation, and translational sciences. We propose an integrated framework and provide real-world examples for articulating the role of D&I sciences within and across all of the translational research spectrum. The framework’s major proposition is that it situates D&I sciences as targeted “sub-sciences” of translational science to be used by CTSAs, and others, to identify and investigate coherent strategies for more routinely and proactively accelerating research translation. The framework highlights the importance of D&I thought leaders in extending D&I principles to all research stages.
We implemented a hospital-based influenza vaccination program for household contacts of newborns. Among mothers not vaccinated prenatally, 44.7% were vaccinated through the program, as were 25.7% of fathers. A hospital-based program provided opportunities for vaccination of household contacts of newborns, thereby facilitating better adherence to national vaccination guidelines.
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