Integrating Implementation Science in Clinical Research to Maximize Public Health Impact: A Call for the Reporting and Alignment of Implementation Strategy Use With Implementation Outcomes in Clinical Research

Abstract [from journal]

Background: Although comprehensive reporting guidelines for implementation strategy use within implementation research exist, they are rarely used by clinical (i.e., efficacy and effectiveness) researchers. In this debate, we argue that the lack of comprehensive reporting of implementation strategy use and alignment of those strategies with implementation outcomes within clinical research is a missed opportunity to efficiently narrow research-to-practice gaps.

Main body: We review ways that comprehensively specifying implementation strategy use can advance science, including enhancing replicability of clinical trials and reducing the time from clinical research to public health impact. We then propose that revisions to frequently used reporting guidelines in clinical research (e.g., CONSORT, TIDieR) are needed, review current methods for reporting implementation strategy use (e.g., utilizing StaRI), provide pragmatic suggestions on how to both prospectively and retrospectively specify implementation strategy use and align these strategies with implementation outcomes within clinical research, and offer a case study of using these methods.

Conclusions: The approaches recommended in this article will not only contribute to shared knowledge and language among clinical and implementation researchers but also facilitate the replication of efficacy and effectiveness research. Ultimately, we hope to accelerate translation from clinical to implementation research in order to expedite improvements in public health.