Introduction Evidence produced by researchers is not comprehensibly used in practice. National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire's strategy for closing the research to practice gap relies on the use of ‘Diffusion Fellows’ (DFs). DFs are seconded from the local healthcare economy to act as champions for change, translating and disseminating knowledge from practice into the research studies and vice versa, taking the knowledge developed by academics back into their own practice environments. This paper outlines the rationale and design of a qualitative evaluation study of the DF role.
Methods and analysis The evaluation responds to the research question: what are the barriers and facilitators to DFs acting as knowledge brokers and boundary spanners? Interviews will be carried out annually with DFs, the research team they work with and their line managers in the employing organisations. Interviews with DFs will be supplemented with a creative mapping component, offering them the opportunity to construct a 3D model to creatively illustrate some of the barriers precluding them from successfully carrying out their role. This method is popular for problem solving and is valuable for both introducing an issue that might be difficult to initially verbalise and to reflect upon experiences.
Ethics and dissemination DFs have an important role within the CLAHRC and are central to our implementation and knowledge mobilisation strategies. It is important to understand as much about their activities as possible in order for the CLAHRC to support the DFs in the most appropriate way. Dissemination will occur through presentations and publications in order that learning from the use of DFs can be shared as widely as possible. The study has received ethical approval from Nottingham 2 Research Ethics Committee and has all appropriate NHS governance clearances.
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To cite: Rowley E. Protocol for a qualitative study exploring the roles of ‘Diffusion Fellows’ in bridging the research to practice gap in the Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC-NDL). BMJ Open 2012;2:e000604. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000604
Funding This paper presents independent research commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) as part of the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care—Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. CLAHRC-NDL is funded through a matched-funding scheme by the National Institute of Health Research, The University of Nottingham, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, NHS Nottingham City, NHS Nottinghamshire County, NHS Bassetlaw, Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, NHS Derby City, NHS Derbyshire County and Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust. The funders had no role in the study design; collection, management, analysis and interpretation of data; writing of subsequent reports or the decision to submit reports for publication. The study's principal investigator, ER has sole responsibility for all these tasks.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval Ethical approval was received from Nottingham 2 Research Ethics Committee (Ref: 10/H0408/95; Principal Investigator: ER).
Contributors ER was the sole author of this paper. She led the conception and design of the study, drafting the article and had final approval of the version to be published.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.