The world is increasingly dichotomous, issues and solutions are presented and processed as either black or white. The divide between competing ideologies is widening and the grey area is shrinking as people cling firmly to the right or left.
However, dissemination of research is universally promoted, clung to and agreed upon as vital to policy, practice and all users of research. We also seem to agree unanimously that bridging this gap between health research producers and users is hard. We agree on the importance of producers and users uniting in this endeavor and that cross-disciplinary discussion catalyses unification, but the struggle of actually doing this is real and felt equally by all sides. Why can’t we overcome this impasse?
What if we’ve been going about it all wrong all along?
We recently spent two stimulating days at HSRUK 2018. Our colourful tablecloth, quirky leaflets and coffee maker attracted a lot of great people and we asked them all the same question: "What gets in the way of research, policy and practice working together?"
The good news: people not caring is not the issue.
Nonetheless, there is a range of factors that people in health services research seem to run into on a regular basis: misaligned agendas and languages, a perceived lack of time because everyone's always busy, not knowing how to engage properly, logistical problems such as different locations and timescales, and the absence of clear logic models ahead of implementation.
At the Health Services Research UK 2018 Conference, plagued with mid-conference excitement, I cannot help but ponder the curious way we talk about and go about disseminating research: as dedicated but inexpert gardeners, and as children holding dandelion blossoms, respectively.
Dandelions can do more than sully your pristine lawn; they can be used in both savoury and sweet recipes and are loaded with health benefits. But if you want to cultivate them for such purposes, you wouldn’t grab the stem, blow the seeds and wait for your salad and tea in the kitchen. Wishful thinking.