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The role of embedded research in quality improvement: a narrative review
  1. Cecilia Vindrola-Padros1,2,
  2. Tom Pape2,3,
  3. Martin Utley3,
  4. Naomi J Fulop1
  1. 1Department of Applied Health Research, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  3. 3Clinical Operational Research Unit, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Cecilia Vindrola-Padros, Department of Applied Health Research, University College London, 1-19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HB, UK; c.vindrola{at}

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The use of research evidence to facilitate improvements in healthcare quality continues to be a topic widely debated by scholars and practitioners.1 ,2 The concept of ‘knowledge mobilisation’ has been developed, with strategies to help bridge this gap.3 These strategies include the development of “a culture of partnership between academic researchers and decision-makers to assist in strengthening the development of policy, practice and social innovation, or the co-production of knowledge”.3 ,4 It is based on the premise that knowledge that is collected and created ‘on the ground’, through daily interaction and negotiation with practitioners, managers and service users,4 will provide better insight into the issues affecting these stakeholders, be more relevant to the local context and will, therefore, be more easily incorporated into changes in practice.5–11

Different strategies have been used internationally to promote knowledge coproduction.12 Several of these strategies entail the creation of partnerships between academic and healthcare organisations.13–19 In some cases, these partnerships use ‘boundary spanners’,19 ,20 ‘knowledge brokers’21 or other intermediary roles,5 where individuals work to link practitioners with knowledge and develop organisational capacity to carry out and incorporate research into practice.18 ,22 One type of intermediary role is the embedded researcher. There are multiple definitions of embedded research and one of the goals of this review is to explore the wide range of meanings associated with this term. However, as a starting point, we used the definition proposed by McGinity and Salokangas,23 where embedded researchers are defined as those who work inside host organisations as members of staff, while also maintaining an affiliation with an academic institution. Their task is seen as collaborating with teams within the organisation to identify, design and conduct research studies and share findings which respond to …

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