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Annu Rev Public Health. 2013;34:235-51. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031912-114444. Epub 2013 Jan 7.

Implementation science and its application to population health.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Public Health Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Implementation science studies the use of strategies to adapt and use evidence-based interventions in targeted settings (e.g., schools, workplaces, health care facilities, public health departments) to sustain improvements to population health. This nascent field of research is in the early stages of developing theories of implementation and evaluating the properties of measures. Stakeholder engagement, effectiveness studies, research synthesis, and mathematical modeling are some of the methods used by implementation scientists to identify strategies to embed evidence-based interventions in clinical and public health programs. However, for implementation science to reach its full potential to improve population health the existing paradigm for how scientists create evidence, prioritize publications, and synthesize research needs to shift toward greater stakeholder input and improved reporting on external validity. This shift will improve the relevance of the research that is produced and provide information that will help guide decision makers in their selection of research-tested interventions.

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