John Walley and colleagues call for a new perspective on healthcare research in this Bulletin of the World Health Organization editorial.
Transferring healthcare interventions from research into practice is a major challenge. Exploring how this can be achieved should be prioritised, designed, applied and replicated from within national programmes, say the authors.
Most international health service research assumes that solutions are 'discovered' and then marketed to health workers and decision makers.
But the authors argue that it is not enough to try and get research into policy by disseminating the new information and encouraging behaviour change in health workers, or through building the capacity of research institutions in developing countries.
Research into implementing healthcare solutions must be embedded in local programmes.
Only realistic interventions, using resources that will be available for any future scale-up, should be evaluated, say the authors — otherwise follow-up research and implementation will not be possible.
They add that by focusing on specific obstacles, embedded research can improve the use of resources — meaning managers can bid for further support with a good track record.