As part of CHIP’s increasing involvement in the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at UConn, CHIP recently created a new research position – called a “boundary spanner” – to facilitate the translation of UConn evidence-based health interventions into routine practice.
Alicia Dugan, who has a PhD in industrial and organizational psychology, is one of three “boundary spanners” throughout the entire CICATS system and the only “boundary spanner” on UConn’s Storrs campus.
“My work at CHIP is part of a larger initiative to advance the science of dissemination and implementation (D & I) at UConn,” said Dugan, who began in her new role at CHIP earlier this semester. “UConn’s emerging focus on D & I is based on an acknowledgement that, while researchers at UConn have developed a variety of evidence-based interventions to promote health and prevent disease, there is a sizeable gap in getting these important interventions into the settings where they can truly affect health care quality and service delivery, such as health care practices, community organizations, and workplaces.
“A central part of my new role at CHIP is to gain a full understanding of the range of intervention research taking place at UConn, and to encourage D & I research through knowledge-sharing and the building of collaborative relationships between UConn researchers and community partners,” Dugan said.
UConn, in partnership with regional hospitals, state agencies, and community health care organizations, created CICATS to transform the way biomedical science is conceived, conducted and disseminated in Connecticut. The Institute transcends the traditional boundaries of individual organizations and organizes the University and its partners into a single functioning research consortium.
The role of CICATS boundary spanners is to work across established organizational and disciplinary boundaries to help accomplish the University’s goal of translating its biomedical and health-related discoveries into products, policies and practices that improve people’s health and quality of life, and to disseminate these discoveries into the community of physicians and healthcare providers throughout Connecticut and beyond.
“This position is critical in that it will encourage and facilitate D & I activities in faculty at UConn and link faculty who have developed effective health promotion interventions with partners — in the university, the community, the government and in industry – with whom they can disseminate them,” said CHIP Director Jeffrey Fisher. “It will also encourage D & I research at UConn– an area with increased priority for government funding. Bridging the gap between science and practice is critical, and D & I research can help to bridge it.”
The goal is for CICATS to have a “boundary spanner” from the different spheres of the CICATS system (the University, the public health sector, the community, etc.) working with their respective target groups and each other to bring into the CICATS partnership otherwise disconnected organizations, researchers and community-end users, who either have interventions that may be ripe for translation or who could benefit from the dissemination and implementation of UConn’s evidence-based health research.
According to UConn’s recent Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) application to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), CICATS boundary spanners will carry out a set of engagement activities within their separate spheres that may include proactively identifying evidence-based interventions ready for dissemination, identifying innovative interventions requiring evaluation and establishing linkages between projects and investigators. They will meet together on a regular basis to coordinate findings and to accelerate the process of discovery and linkage.
The boundary spanners are part of CICATS’ Community Engagement Core.
Click here for more information about CICATS.