Topic Area 4: Translation research

Translation research (TR) is the study of methods to promote the adoption and integration of evidence-based occupational safety and health (OSH) practices, interventions, and policies into routine workplace settings to improve worker health and well-being. This type of research has received increased attention in the OSH field and has become increasingly important for NIOSH, as interested parties call for greater evidence of the positive and sustained impact of OSH research. TR approaches are uniquely suited to moving research outputs (such as evidence-based interventions) into use by employers and workers. TR strategies are also useful for capturing and characterizing the IOs of OSH interventions, as well as the key factors that influence whether an intervention is adopted, adapted, implemented, and institutionalized. Efforts to increase and enhance the use of TR approaches at NIOSH have been underway since 2016. However, a shared understanding of the concept is lacking within the Institute, and very few projects and programs have explicitly incorporated TR methodologies.

NIOSH began discussing TR in OSH in 2010, following critical reviews by the National Academies of Science as well as calls within the OSH community to increase efforts to investigate factors that enhance and limit the development, transfer, and use of OSH information and technology. Initial thinking was captured in the NIOSH Research Roadmap (2016), built on the widely cited National Institutes of Health (NIH) 4-phaseexternal icon bench-to-bedside model, along with other clinical and public health models. The roadmap called for formation of the NIOSH TR Core and Specialty Program as well as promotion of the concept more widely. It differentiated TR from Research to Practice (r2p) in that TR is the study of r2p processes (with the aim of improving these processes to enhance adoption and sustainment of effective OSH interventions). A key journal article published in 2017 [Schulte et al.] offered a definition and framework of TR for OSH, and subsequent journal articles aimed to disentangle overlapping terminology and concepts used in the multiple disciplines involved in dissemination and implementation (D&I) science, TR for OSH, and r2p.

Much of the initial presentation of TR at NIOSH has focused on the four-stage framework included in the NIOSH roadmap, which parallels the full continuum of research from problem identification to testing and of the intervention in controlled and real-world settings to positive and sustained impact on worker health and well-being. However, we recognize that there is a need for focused attention on research that addresses the latter stages of the r2p process, that is, implementation science approaches. The concepts of TR and implementation science are overlapping, with many scientific disciplines using differing terminology for the same or similar concepts. Therefore, NIOSH will begin by conducting a literature review and an environmental scan to gather more background information from the wider implementation science field and OSH, specifically as well as, learning more about the way in which other institutions (such as the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Health Administration) are operating in the TR sphere.

Next, a small workgroup of NIOSH TR interested researchers and r2p representatives will use this and other data points to refine its current definition and understanding of TR. The definition and other materials that result from this work will then be shared with NIOSH division/laboratories/offices (DLO) staff for feedback and further refinement.

Finally, NIOSH will attempt to identify existing TR/implementation research tools and models/frameworks that it may tailor for application by researchers in the OSH community. This will be informed by the feedback process in the previous step. Subsequently, the materials will be evaluated with interested internal and external partners and research collaborators.

Status

Status

√  Literature review and environmental scan completed.

√  Literature review and environmental scan completed.

Inputs

Inputs

  • National Academies of Science program reviews
  • Contribution analysis program reviews
  • Translation Research Roadmap
  • Translation Research Core and Specialty Program
  • NIOSH partners, collaborators, and beneficiaries
  • State of translation science within other agencies
  • National Academies of Science program reviews
  • Contribution analysis program reviews
  • Translation Research Roadmap
  • Translation Research Core and Specialty Program
  • NIOSH partners, collaborators, and beneficiaries
  • State of translation science within other agencies

Key Learning Question

Key Learning Question

How can NIOSH use translation research to enhance successful adoption, implementation, and sustainment of NIOSH solutions?

How can NIOSH use translation research to enhance successful adoption, implementation, and sustainment of NIOSH solutions?

Key Learning Activities (KLAs)

Key Learning Activities (KLAs)

  1. Refine definition and develop supporting materials for translation research (TR). (Completion by end of FY23)
  2. Develop TR/implementation research materials to build capacity within the NIOSH. (Completion by end of FY25)
  1. Refine definition and develop supporting materials for translation research (TR). (Completion by end of FY23)
  2. Develop TR/implementation research materials to build capacity within the NIOSH. (Completion by end of FY25)

Start of Process

Start of Process

NIOSH began its efforts in translation research (TR) about 10 years ago. The Institute has made great strides, such as publication of the NIOSH Translation Research Roadmap in 2016 and examination of how TR concepts and language overlap across disciplines. However, after the eight National Academies of Science reviews, the five most recent program review panels again expressed a need for the Institute to continue to expand and evolve in this area. Additionally, given the Institute’s renewed emphasis on translating its research into impact, particularly through the demonstration of methods to more readily achieve intermediate outcomes, this type of research will be increasingly important. Therefore, NIOSH must continue to conduct formative research to learn from others in this area. It must also commit to clearly articulating how it will apply TR concepts at NIOSH and increase the familiarity, understanding, and use of TR at the Institute. Finally, since TR is relatively new, particularly to the OSH community, NIOSH also needs to develop tailored materials that NIOSH staff may use to build capacity in this area.

NIOSH began its efforts in translation research (TR) about 10 years ago. The Institute has made great strides, such as publication of the NIOSH Translation Research Roadmap in 2016 and examination of how TR concepts and language overlap across disciplines. However, after the eight National Academies of Science reviews, the five most recent program review panels again expressed a need for the Institute to continue to expand and evolve in this area. Additionally, given the Institute’s renewed emphasis on translating its research into impact, particularly through the demonstration of methods to more readily achieve intermediate outcomes, this type of research will be increasingly important. Therefore, NIOSH must continue to conduct formative research to learn from others in this area. It must also commit to clearly articulating how it will apply TR concepts at NIOSH and increase the familiarity, understanding, and use of TR at the Institute. Finally, since TR is relatively new, particularly to the OSH community, NIOSH also needs to develop tailored materials that NIOSH staff may use to build capacity in this area.

Steps in Process

Steps in Process

KLA-1

  • Search the literature and scan the environment relevant to TR.
  • Draft a refined definition and supporting materials.
  • Seek DLO feedback and finalize definition and supporting materials.

KLA-2

  • Identify existing TR/implementation research tools and models/frameworks
  • Tailor TR/implementation research tools and models/frameworks
  • Evaluate TR/implementation research tools and models/frameworks

KLA-1

  • Search the literature and scan the environment relevant to TR.
  • Draft a refined definition and supporting materials.
  • Seek DLO feedback and finalize definition and supporting materials.

KLA-2

  • Identify existing TR/implementation research tools and models/frameworks
  • Tailor TR/implementation research tools and models/frameworks
  • Evaluate TR/implementation research tools and models/frameworks

Next Steps

Next Steps

Draft supporting materials.

Draft supporting materials.

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Page last reviewed: December 17, 2020