There was a big financial investment in setting up nine partnerships between higher education institutions and health-care organisations. The partnerships were called Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs). The idea behind them is that, if those who produce research were closer to those who use it, more relevant research would be conducted and this research would be more likely to be used in practice. This study looked at how CLAHRCs were facilitating the use of research in practice.
We studied three CLAHRCs by interviewing people, observing events and looking at their documents over 54 months.
We found that their opportunities to implement research in practice were influenced by the vision and views of those who set them up, including how they had structured the CLAHRCs. CLAHRC leaders played an important role in how the collaboration functioned. Researchers and practitioners had different views about what a CLAHRC was for and therefore ‘what was in it for them’ if they got involved. People had been employed to cross the boundary between practice and higher education and in some contexts they had been successful in facilitating knowledge sharing and exchange. There were examples of CLAHRC activity having an impact on the way that services were delivered to patients, and in providing opportunities for practitioners and researchers to come together to share ideas and do joint projects.
A CLAHRC approach shows promise, but more time and development will be needed to realise their full potential in increasing the use of research in practice.