Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence
The aim of this study was to unpack the key concepts of action research and implementation science thereby enabling appropriate use of these methods in nursing.
A key issue in action research is not so much the methodology employed to gather data/evidence but who decides the research agenda and who benefits from it. Implementation science is a way to ensure that evidence is translated into practice. The question arises as to how action research and implementation may be understood in relation to one another in nursing.
This discussion paper is based on our own experiences and offers an exploration of action research and implementation science with the aim of clarifying what each involves and what synergies, if any, exist between them.
Implications for Nursing
Using action research to secure the voice of patients in their own care is essential to delivering quality nursing care. Using implementation science frameworks to get research evidence into practice is effective. Familiarity with both these concepts may enable their improved use and have a positive impact on quality of care.
There is a tension between action researchers and the protagonists of implementation science related to perceived “trade offs” between what constitutes “science” and the necessity of community participation. Nevertheless, the use of an implementation science framework in an action research approach can reduce the research practice time lag and action research provides sound theoretical and philosophical underpinnings that can be used by those in the implementation science field.
Casey, M, O' Leary, D, Coghlan, D. Unpacking action research and implementation science: Implications for nursing. J Adv Nurs. 2018; 74: 1051– 1058, DOI: 10.1111/jan.13494