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A translational framework for public health research

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-9-116

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Abstract:

Our framework redefines the objective of translation from that of institutionalising effective interventions to that of improving population health by influencing both individual and collective determinants of health. It incorporates epidemiological perspectives with those of the social sciences, recognising that many types of research may contribute to the shaping of policy, practice and future research. It also identifies a pivotal role for evidence synthesis and the importance of non-linear and intersectoral interfaces with the public realm.We propose a research agenda to advance the field and argue that resources for 'applied' or 'translational' public health research should be deployed across the framework, not reserved for 'dissemination' or 'implementation'.The translation of health research is increasingly regarded as important – not only in the UK but also across Europe and North America – in order to maximise the population health benefits of investment in research and health care delivery [1]. However, 'translation' and 'translational research' mean different things to different people. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) define 'knowledge translation' in terms of exchange, synthesis, dialogue and interaction between researchers and users – a 'radically different' model from the unidirectional flow of knowledge sometimes implied by terms such as 'dissemination' or 'knowledge transfer' [2]. It is also recognised that many contemporary health challenges require a more fundamental and wide-ranging societal response than those that can be offered through established systems of delivering health care [3]. This is the domain of public health, the nature and scope of which is not universally understood [4].In this paper, we therefore propose a translational framework for public health research. Although our framework is presented in the context of a case study of the current situation in the UK, the issues we address are general and equally applica

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