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Suicide: Translation

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Translation characterizes the sequence of events from discovery of new knowledge (i.e., an innovation) to its adoption and use in practice settings. It does not encompass pure foundational or formative basic "discoveries" (e.g., discovery of risk and protective factors, causal pathways, or etiology research). Translation is comprised of many complex activities of which the specific elements are defined below.1

  • Dissemination: The intentional targeted spreading of information or technology about an innovation - product, practice, program, policy, idea, research findings, or results - from the originators to the intended users (specific public health audiences and other key stakeholders receptive to them). The result is a targeted and facilitated process of distributing information and materials to organizations and individuals who want and can use them to improve health.
  • Implementation: A purposeful set of specific activities designed to put an innovation to use, including the decision to use an innovation, commitment of needed resources, and actual use. The result is individual or organizational adoption of an innovation - product, practice, program, policy, idea, research findings, or results.
  • Diffusion: Processes whereby an innovation moves into widespread use or common understanding. The result is the uptake of new practices, the penetration of broad scale recommendations, or more evidence-based health decision-making in both the public and the private sectors. Strategies to influence diffusion may include dissemination and implementation initiatives, marketing, laws and regulations, systems research, and policies.

Note: These are working definitions developed by CDC's Knowledge to Action workgroup. If you would like more information on these definitions, please contact

Overview of the Interactive Systems Framework for Dissemination and Implementation

The Interactive Systems Framework for Dissemination and Implementation shows key elements and relationships involved in the movement of knowledge of research into practice. While it is primarily descriptive, it also has implications for how the dissemination and implementation process might be improved. The Framework consists of three systems: the Prevention Synthesis and Translation System, the Prevention Support System, and the Prevention Delivery System. The term system is used broadly here to describe a set of activities that may vary in the degree to which they are systematic or coherently organized.

The function of the Prevention Synthesis and Translation System is conceptualized as distilling information about scientific innovations and preparing them for implementation by end users (e.g., practitioners). The function of the Prevention Support System is conceptualized as supporting the work of those who will put the innovations into practice. The primary function of the Prevention Delivery System is the implementation of innovations (e.g., delivery of programs) in the field.1

The Interactive Systems Framework for Dissemination and Implemenation

The Interactive Systems Framework for Dissemination and Implementation, described above

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Translation Research

Research is continuing to identify programs and strategies that reduce or ultimately prevent various types of violence. For these programs or strategies to reach the broadest audience possible, applied translational research about their dissemination, implementation, and diffusion is necessary. For example, a program's effectiveness may vary depending on the setting in which it is delivered. Translational research may examine the effect of a program in different settings including the workplace, schools, churches, and community centers. CDC's research on translation helps guide the adaptation of programs and strategies to specific communities, subcultures, and populations with the goal of enhancing their effectiveness.

A special issue of the American Journal of Community Psychology was published in April 2008 highlighting the Interactive Systems Framework for Dissemination and Implementation.

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  • National Implementation Research Network
    The National Implementation Research Network seeks to close the gap between science and service by improving the science and practice of implementation in relation to evidence-based programs and practices.

  • Suicide Prevention Resource Center
    The Suicide Prevention Resource Center supports suicide prevention by offering the best of science, skills, and practice. The center provides technical assistance, training, and informational materials to strengthen suicide prevention networks and advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

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1Wandersman, A., Duffy, J., Flaspohler, P., Noonan, R., Lubell, K., Stillman, L., Blachman, M., Dunville, R., & Saul, J. (2008). Bridging the gap between prevention research and practice: The Interactive Systems Framework for Dissemination and Implementation. American Journal of Community Psychology, 41, 171–181.

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