Recommendations for strengthening the role of embedded researchers to accelerate implementation in health systems: Findings from a state-of-the-art (SOTA) conference workgroup

Laura J. Damschroder, Andrew J. Knighton, Emily Griese, Sarah M. Greene, Paula Lozano, Amy M. Kilbourne, Diana S.M. Buist, Karen Crotty, A. Rani Elwy, Lee A. Fleisher, Ralph Gonzales, Amy G. Huebschmann, Heather M. Limper, Nithya Priya S. Ramalingam, Katherine Wilemon, P. Michael Ho, Christian D. Helfrichfcr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Traditional research approaches do not promote timely implementation of evidence-based innovations (EBIs) to benefit patients. Embedding research within health systems can accelerate EBI implementation by blending rigorous methods with practical considerations in real-world settings. A state-of-the-art (SOTA) conference was convened in February 2019 with five workgroups that addressed five facets of embedded research and its potential to impact healthcare. This article reports on results from the workgroup focused on how embedded research programs can be implemented into heath systems for greatest impact. Methods: Based on a pre-conference survey, participants indicating interest in accelerating implementation were invited to participate in the SOTA workgroup. Workgroup participants (N = 26) developed recommendations using consensus-building methods. Ideas were grouped by thematic clusters and voted on to identify top recommendations. A summary was presented to the full SOTA membership. Following the conference, the workgroup facilitators (LJD, CDH, NR) summarized workgroup findings, member-checked with workgroup members, and were used to develop recommendations. Results: The workgroup developed 12 recommendations to optimize impact of embedded researchers within health systems. The group highlighted the tension between “ROI vs. R01” goals—where health systems focus on achieving return on their investments (ROI) while embedded researchers focus on obtaining research funding (R01). Recommendations are targeted to three key stakeholder groups: researchers, funders, and health systems. Consensus for an ideal foundation to support optimal embedded research is one that (1) maximizes learning; (2) aligns goals across all 3 stakeholders; and (3) implements EBIs in a consistent and timely fashion. Conclusions: Four cases illustrate a variety of ways that embedded research can be structured and conducted within systems, by demonstrating key embedded research values to enable collaborations with academic affiliates to generate actionable knowledge and meaningfully accelerate implementation of EBIs to benefit patients. Implications: Embedded research approaches have potential for transforming health systems and impacting patient health. Accelerating embedded research should be a focused priority for funding agencies to maximize a collective return on investment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100455
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Embedded research
  • Partnered research
  • State-of-the-art review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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