Learning Implementation Science in the Kingdom of Thailand

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

By Monika Martens & Daniel Boateng

In the first and second week of November, a handful of SCUBY team members participated in two learning and networking events organized by the Global Alliance of Chronic Diseases (GACD), a global network consisting of 15 of the world’s largest public health research funders supporting implementation science research into chronic diseases. This was a good way to learn, grow our networks, and meet each other on the other side of the world 😊.

Top to bottom, left to right: Vannarath Te, Daniel Boateng, Monika Martens and Katrien Danhieux

In the first week (5th to 9th November), we participated, as junior SCUBY researchers, in the Implementation Science School organised by GACD, in collaboration Thailand’s Health Systems Research Institute (HSRI) and Mahidol University (MU) in Salaya, Thailand. We had the opportunity to learn about definitions, theories, designs, evaluation measures and ‘general principles’ used by implementation scientists. Lessons included: the know-do gap, ‘content is king, context is god’, involve and engage stakeholders from the onset of your research project, ‘frame the intervention, the process and the evaluation’.

Implementation science is not just about these catchy quotes of course, but seeks to understand more about “real world” or usual practice settings. It can be defined as “the scientific study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of research findings and other evidence-based practices into routine practice, and, hence, to improve the quality, effectiveness and equity of health services and public health” (Eccles/Mittman, 2006). 

As our own SCUBY project is concerned with the implementation and evaluation of policy change (or more simply put, the scale-up of integrated care), we as well are looking to find strategies to apply evidence in real-world settings. What indeed are the more effective and efficient ways to bring evidence to policy (and not just keep the evidence within the walls of research institutes)?

A more holistic approach to research, communication and dissemination is needed, which includes social media and stakeholder engagement. This we will further learn throughout the course of SCUBY.

In the second week in Bangkok (11th to 15th November), we were joined by several senior team members for the GACD Annual Scientific Meeting which was hosted by the HSRI. Here we shared insights from our project; challenges, but also our successes and quick wins, as well as our plans for engagement with policy makers… Josefien Van Olmen, SCUBY’s scientific coordinator, presented about the way we conceptualise scale-up in our research. Additionally, Monika and Katrien, presented their posters with preliminary results of the evaluation of integrated care implementation in Belgium and a stakeholder analysis.  

From left to right: Vannarath Te, Daniel Boateng, Katrien Danhieux, Josefien Van Olmen, Monika Martens and Kerstin Klipstein-Grobusch

Overall, these two international meetings generated common understandings and many more ideas for SCUBY on ways to tackle the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based, integrated care practices.

Of course, we did not miss the opportunity to explore Bangkok’s amazing tourist attractions, food and hospitability.

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