Moving improvement research closer to practice: The Researcher-in-Residence model
Marshall M., Pagel C., French C., Utley M., Allwood D., Fulop N., Pope C., Banks V., Goldmann A.
The traditional separation of the producers of research evidence in academia from the users of that evidence in healthcare organisations has not succeeded in closing the gap between what is known about the organisation and delivery of health services and what is actually done in practice. As a consequence, there is growing interest in alternative models of knowledge creation and mobilisation, ones which emphasise collaboration, active participation of all stakeholders, and a commitment to shared learning. Such models have robust historical, philosophical and methodological foundations but have not yet been embraced by many of the people working in the health sector. This paper presents an emerging model of participation, the Researcher-in-Residence. The model positions the researcher as a core member of a delivery team, actively negotiating a body of expertise which is different from, but complementary to, the expertise of managers and clinicians. Three examples of in-residence models are presented: an anthropologist working as a member of an executive team, operational researchers working in a front-line delivery team, and a Health Services Researcher working across an integrated care organisation. Each of these examples illustrates the contribution that an embedded researcher can make to a service-based team. They also highlight a number of unanswered questions about the model, including the required level of experience of the researcher and their areas of expertise, the institutional facilitators and barriers to embedding the model, and the risk that the independence of an embedded researcher might be compromised. The Researcher-in-Residence model has the potential to engage both academics and practitioners in the promotion of evidence-informed service improvement, but further evaluation is required before the model should be routinely used in practice.