Research to Practice

In 2010, there were in existence about 50 million research articles [1]…that was 7 years ago.  While I can’t find an exact figure on how many are out there now, I can promise you one thing – it’s a lot.  With the constant influx of research, science and medicine is ever advancing, however there is a real problem with medicine keeping up with science.  The average “research to practice gap” has a lag time of 17 years [2]!  As you may have well guessed, this “research to practice gap” is the time which it takes basic research to translate into clinical practice.  While huge efforts are made in teaching evidence-based practice methods to health care professionals on the interdisciplinary team (future post to come), there is still a clear wall between research and practice.  This means patients are not getting the most optimal care which they could.  So, how do we fix this?

  1. Advocate for your research.  A crucial element in research today is the “big picture” – in other words, how is your research significant, what are the future directions, and how can your findings be used.  However, simply stating these things and knowing them yourself doesn’t do anyone any good.  You must go out there and work to implement your findings into practice and connect with people who can use them to enhance clinical care.
  2. Use evidence-based practice.  This one is for the clinical side of the wall.  It is absolutely essential that members of the healthcare team utilize evidence-based practice on a patient by patient basis to seek out treatment and management which is innovative and effective.  This may make the difference in quality of life for many patients and is unfortunately underdone in the hospital setting in my unprofessional opinion.
  3. Engage in the community.  Here’s one for both.  This helps to disseminate and connect research with clinicians.  Both parties are busy, we get that.  However, engaging in a common community and connecting and directly translating the research will aid in overall decreasing the gap.
  4. Finally, devote equal focus on theory and research, practice and training.  This one is also for both parties and an excellent concept I found in this paper.  This element is all about balance and devoting equal time to advancing knowledge and actually implementing that knowledge.

One growing career path which personally speaks to me as I am very passionate about this gap and translational research in general (maybe a future blog post to come?) is the clinician scientist.  This could be an MD-PhD or, in my case, DNP-PhD or even just an MD or DNP who dedicate time to research.  By actively engaging in both fields, you are able to keep up with the advancing science in your clinical care.  But, let’s be honest, that’s a lot of work!  So for now, focus on the key points above.  Put your heart into what you’re doing and work to truly make a change; don’t just to sit back and do the bare minimum.  Go above and beyond for your research or your patient!

For more or a more scientific perspective on bridging the gap, check out this article!

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