Does collaborative research enhance the integration of research, policy and practice? The case of the Dutch Health Broker Partnership.

Journal of health services research & policy

PubMedID: 23038708

Krebbekx W, Harting J, Stronks K. Does collaborative research enhance the integration of research, policy and practice? The case of the Dutch Health Broker Partnership. J Health Serv Res Policy. 2012;17(4):219-26.
OBJECTIVES
A gap between health services research and practice has been identified: research findings often do not find their way into practice. Our objective was to explore the potential of collaborative research to bridge this gap in one specific area, health promotion, and to determine factors that influence the development of theory-based practice and practice-based theory.

METHODS
This was investigated in an exploratory single-case study. First, we designed an analytical framework for collaborative research. Next, we used this framework to analyse developments in the Dutch Health Broker Partnership, which involved researchers, policymakers and practitioners. Data consisted of transcripts of the meetings of the Partnership over an 18-month period, as well as interviews with its 13 members.

RESULTS
The development of theory-based practice and practice-based theory failed to progress beyond the initial stages, although practitioners' actions did become more comprehensive and researchers' thinking became more influenced by practical limitations and local contexts. The heterogeneity of the Partnership facilitated as well as impeded the progress of these developments.

CONCLUSIONS
Although collaborative research may serve as a tool to narrow the gap between research and practice, discussing the collaborative process and partner heterogeneity among the partners at the outset may be a necessary prerequisite to achieving the full potential of any partnership, which is limited by the ambivalent influence of partner heterogeneity. Collaborative research may, therefore, additionally benefit from continuous cross-domain orchestration and boundary work.