Leaving an IMPRNT on healthcare: Development of the Implementation Science Research Network

by Jenny Mc Sharry

The Research-Practice Gap in Healthcare Delivery

As I continue my research career and get involved in new projects, I’m becoming more and more interested in how our research in Health Psychology actually impacts on the day to day delivery of healthcare.

It seems I’m not the only one, the Health Research Board’s Strategy 2016-2020 has highlighted the need to promote implementation research to ensure optimal translation of findings into policy and practice. The World Health Organisation has emphasised that “neglecting implementation challenges costs lives and money”.

The gap between research evidence and routine practice is a consistent feature of healthcare delivery. Effective interventions exist to address many health problems but the gap between what we know and what we do is a major risk to international health.

Implementation Science

Implementation science can be understood as the study of methods to promote the uptake of research evidence into policy and practice (although defining implementation science can be a challenge in itself, see these useful papers on definitions and models, theories and frameworks).

Implementation science is a growing discipline worldwide. In Ireland, although interesting implementation science research is taking place and general implementation networks are active, no research-focused network exist. 

The increasing priority placed on implementation by funders, universities and policy makers suggested an opportunity to develop a network to build implementation science research in Ireland, an opportunity I was keen to explore.

Increasing Implementation Science Capacity in Ireland: Applying for Funding

To facilitate network development, I needed to identify a funding source that supports developing collaborations and increasing knowledge exchange, rather than completing a specific research project.  The Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme seemed like a perfect fit and is particularly supportive of early-stage researchers seeking to establish their careers. 

I applied in December 2015 and was awarded funding for the proposal “Leaving an IMPRNT on healthcare: Development of the IMPlementation science Research NeTwork”.


IMPRNT One Day Workshop

To launch IMPRNT, on 19th September I organised the IMPRNT One Day Workshop to bring researchers, practitioners and policy makers together with national and international experts to discuss implementation science research in health.

Deciding which experts to invite to speak was really enjoyable. I made a list of national and international experts that I would love to learn from, and got in contact to see if they would be interested in being involved. Some I already knew and some I didn’t, but all were extremely nice, generous with their time, and willing to be involved.

imprnt-presentersNational and International Experts at the IMPRNT Launch
L-R: Dr Fabiana Lorencatto, Dr Justin Presseau, Dr Molly Byrne, Marita Hennessy, Dr Jenny Mc Sharry, Maureen D’eath, Dr Sheena McHugh, Dr Rhiannon Evans, Professor Robbie Foy, Katie Burke, Dr Elaine Toomey, Dr Patrick Murphy, Professor Catherine Hayes.

The IMPRNT One Day Workshop was organised into three sections of two presentations with a chaired panel discussion, to provide an opportunity for discussion under three themes- Implementation Science: What do we know? Where does it fit? Where are we going?

Our numbers were limited to 30 participants to allow for small group discussion and networking. But our experts have kindly allowed us to make their presentations available, and links to the presentations under each theme are available below. Our experts also put together an extremely useful Resource Sheet with key references and resources in implementation science research.

Implementation Science Research: What do we know?


Dr Sheena McHugh

Dr Sheena McHugh,  Research Fellow at the Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, University College Cork presented on Using Frameworks in Implementation Science Research.


Dr Justin Presseau 

Dr Justin Presseau, Scientist, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa, Canada spoke about Understanding and Changing Healthcare Professional Behaviour: What do we know from Implementation Science?

Panel Discussion chaired by
Dr Molly Byrne, Health Behaviour Change Research Group, NUI Galway

Implementation Science Research: Where does it fit?


Dr Fabiana Lorencatto

Dr Fabiana Lorencatto, Health Psychologist in Implementation Research, City University London, UK discussed Implementation Fidelity and Implementation Science Research.


Dr Rhiannon Evans

Dr Rhiannon Evans, Research Fellow Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), University of Cardiff spoke about Process Evaluation and Implementation Science Research.

Panel Discussion chaired by
Dr Elaine Toomey, Health Behaviour Change Research Group, NUI Galway


Implementation Science Research: Where are we going?


Professor Robbie Foy

Professor Robbie Foy, General Practitioner and Professor of Primary Care, University of Leeds, UK outlined Priorities for Research in Implementation Science.


Professor Catherine Hayes

Professor Catherine Hayes, Associate Professor of Public Health Medicine, Trinity College Dublin provided examples of Training and Education in Implementation Science.

Panel Discussion chaired by
Dr Teresa Maguire, Department of Health


Katie Burke

Katie Burke, Senior Manager, Centre for Effective Services, Ireland ended the day by describing Existing Implementation Networks.


What’s next for IMPRNT?

The day after the IMPRNT Workshop, on 20th September, we held an expert consensus meeting with our invited speakers to identify barriers to implementation science research and strategies to overcome those barriers. We’re working on a report at the moment describing the process and outcomes of the consensus meeting which will help decide how best to develop the network.

I’m also hoping to attend the Global Implementation Conference in Toronto next year to share key messages and resources from IMPRNT and to explore opportunities for international collaborations and linkage with other networks.


Funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme



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