We've talked a lot on this blog about the importance of translation, and we try and do a little of it, too. Translation and dissemination are vital to who we are as an organization, and really, as a field. It's right there in AcademyHealth's vision statement: "AcademyHealth seeks to improve health and health care by generating new knowledge and moving knowledge into action." [emphasis added] But for the last year, AcademyHealth and its board have been in discussions about how great the community's needs are related to translation and dissemination and what we can do to address them. To that end, we are pleased to announce that today, AcademyHealth is formally launching its new Translation and Dissemination Institute to improve the flow of information between and among health policy decision makers and health services researchers in order to improve health and health care. Let's face it, translation and dissemination are hard, resources are scarce, and the incentives to do it are low. We know that it can take up to 17 years for study findings to make their way from publication to accepted practice, and separately that less than 1 study in 1,000 is ever covered by the mainstream media. But in a world of constrained funding, escalating costs, and variable quality of care, shrinking the gap between producing scientific evidence and using it in policymaking or health care practice is even more critical. As AcademyHealth President and CEO, Dr. Lisa Simpson said in our press release:

"Health services research produces evidence that can improve healthcare quality and value, but the real promise of this information is in what happens after the research project ends. Currently, the vast majority of these studies are known only to other researchers and it takes far too long to move even the most notable information into policy and practice. We’ve launched the Translation and Dissemination Institute in response to members and partners’ input to answer the question: how we do a better job of getting sought after answers into the hands of decision makers, when they need it, in a format they can use?"

The Institute will focus in three areas:

  1. listening to stakeholder needs and questions, and sharing those needs with the research community in order to increase attention on priority research questions,
  2. identifying research that is relevant, actionable, and timely, and promoting that work directly to interested audiences,
  3. serving as a laboratory for testing new and innovative approaches to research translation and dissemination, and sharing those lessons with others to improve the field’s collective ability to move research into action.

The Institute’s first priorities are the launch of its "Listening Project," which will collect input on short- and long-term research needs from federal and state policymakers and delivery system leaders, and an assessment of current best practices in translation and dissemination, with a focus on lessons from the existing research as well as experiences from related fields (i.e. communications and public policy) and other areas of scientific study. The Listening Project and assessment of best practices are supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Future efforts will explore how to more effectively use and assess the impact of emerging media, social networks and technologies, as well as novel approaches to storytelling and education. The Translation and Dissemination Institute will also periodically host "innovators in residence" who will join AcademyHealth for a defined period of work and study in this area.

The Translation and Dissemination Institute will be co-led by me and Michael Gluck, Ph.D., Senior Director, Translation Strategies, with input from an advisory committee of experts who study and/or demonstrate best practices in research dissemination and translation. We'll also work closely with the Translation and Communications Interest Group.

Interested in learning more? We've posted a list of Key Resources on translation and dissemination on our website, and started a discussion on my.academyhealth.org about what's there and what might be missing. We've also posted links to previously recorded webinars related to translation and dissemination, including the very popular session on new media and knowledge transfer featuring our advisory committee member, Austin Frakt, Ph.D., who contributes often to this blog as well as being a health economist and co-Founder of The Incidental Economist blog.

Take a look, and let us know what you think.


This post was written by Kristin Rosengren, Senior Director, Strategic Communications, AcademyHealth

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