Translational research

How do public health professionals view and engage with research?

Researchers from Fuse and the University of Cambridge conducted in-depth interviews with public health professionals (PHPs) and researchers. These explored opportunities and barriers to PHPs engaging with research evidence, and what, if anything, could be done to improve their experiences.

This research focused on case studies from two responsive research schemes: the Public Health Practitioner Evaluation Scheme (PHPES) run by the NIHR School for Public Health Research; and AskFuse led by Fuse. We examined the type of research requests that were submitted to both schemes between 2013 and 2015 and selected a small number of case studies for further investigation. We verified and expanded on the results in a regional stakeholder workshop with a select group of PHPs and academics in North East England to identify solutions to increase the co-production of evidence.

The findings demonstrated that public health professionals recognised the importance of research findings for informing their practice and decision making. However, they identified three main barriers when trying to engage with researchers:

  1. Differences in timescales.
  2. Limited budgets.
  3. Difficulties in identifying appropriate researchers.

The two responsive schemes were able to address some of these barriers, including finding appropriate researchers and securing funding for local evaluations. The schemes also supported the development of new types of evidence. However, other barriers remained, such as differences in timescales and the resources needed to scale up research.

The research concluded that an increased mutual awareness of the structures and challenges under which public health professionals and researchers work is required. Opportunities for frequent and meaningful engagement between PHPs and researchers can help to overcome additional barriers to co-production of evidence. Collaborative models, such as the use of researchers embedded in practice might facilitate this; however, flexible research funding schemes are needed to support these models.

Last modified: Fri, 15 Feb 2019 14:30:59 GMT