Intended for healthcare professionals

The Nhs's 50th Anniversary Getting research findings into practice

Making better use of research findings

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 04 July 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:72
  1. Andrew Haines, professor of primary health care (,
  2. Anna Donald, lecturer.b
  1. a Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, Royal Free and University College London Schools of Medicine, London NW3 2PF
  2. b Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London Medical School
  1. Correspondence to: Professor Haines

    This is the first in a series of eight articles analysing the gap between research and practice

    Series editors: Andrew Haines and Anna Donald

    There is increasing interest in implementing research findings in practice both because of a growing awareness of the gap between clinical practice and the findings of research and also because of the need to show that public investment in research results in benefits for patients. Improved understanding of the reasons for the uptake of research findings requires insights from a range of disciplines. In order to promote the uptake of research findings it is necessary to identify potential barriers to implementation and to develop strategies to overcome them. Specific interventions that can be used to promote change in practice include using clinical guidelines and computerised decision support systems, developing educational programmes, communicating research findings to patients, and developing strategies for organisational change.

    Interest in how best to promote the uptake of research findings has been fuelled by a number of factors including the well documented disparities between clinical practice and research evidence of effective interventions. Examples include interventions in the management of cardiac failure, secondary prevention of heart disease,1 atrial fibrillation,2 menorrhagia,3 and pregnancy and childbirth.4 In the United Kingdom the advent of the NHS research and development programme has led to greater involvement of NHS personnel in setting priorities5 and to the establishment of a programme to evaluate different methods of promoting the implementation of research findings.6 The concept of pay back on research7 has also been developed, resulting in a framework that can be used to assess the benefits arising from research.

    Relying on the passive diffusion of information to keep health professionals' knowledge up to date is doomed to failure in a global environment in which …

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