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Health Expect. 2012 Dec;15(4):389-400. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2011.00681.x. Epub 2011 May 25.

Close to the bench as well as at the bedside: involving service users in all phases of translational research.

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Stakeholder Participation Theme, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London,, UK.



The paper aims to develop a model of translational research in which service user and other stakeholder involvement are central to each phase.


'Translational' is the current medical buzzword: translational research has been termed 'bench to bedside' research and promises to fast-track biomedical advances in the service of patient benefit. Models usually conceive of translational research as a 'pipeline' that is divided into phases: the early phase is characterized as the province of basic scientists and laboratory-based clinical researchers; the later phases focus on the implementation, dissemination and diffusion of health applications. If service user involvement is mentioned, it is usually restricted to these later phases.


The paper critically reviews existing literature on translational research and medicine. The authors develop a theoretical argument that addresses why a reconceptualization of translational research is required on scientific, ethical and pragmatic grounds.


The authors reconceptualize the model of translational research as an interlocking loop rather than as a pipeline, one in which service user and other stakeholder involvement feed into each of its elements. The authors demonstrate that for the 'interlocking loop' model of translational research to be materialized in practice will require changes in how health research is structured and organized.


The authors demonstrate the scientific, ethical and pragmatic benefits of involving service users in every phase of translational research. The authors' reconceptualized model of translational research contributes to theoretical and policy debates regarding both translational research and service user involvement.

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