By Kerry Ardern
“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.”
– Manfred Eige
Bridging the gap between research and practice requires better communication, and collaboration, between researchers and clinicians. This can be somewhat tricky given that, at times, they appear to be speaking different languages!
The more I work clinically, the more questions I have about why I am working in the way that I am (that is, the way I have been taught to practice, in low intensity psychological interventions). My practice is evidence-based and the evidence comes from research. So, I gathered, to optimally improve the wellbeing of as many people as possible, working within health research was the way forward for me.
The gap between research and practice can feel quite big. Something that seems simplistic to implement ‘in theory’ might require a burdensome reconfiguration ‘in practice’. Yet, many clinical changes suggested by research are doable by the clinician alone – requiring little effort or change to the ‘system’ as a whole. For a clinician to change their practice however, they need to be informed by the latest evidence-base. This is often published online, I know, but is it accessible? The formatting and language within research journals is meticulously defined to appeal to researchers. Now I ask, how many researchers are practicing clinicians? Do we have masses of researchers with influential knowledge on clinical skills, yet, curious clinicians struggling to comprehend, or even find, this information?
Here is where EQUITy hopes to make a change. For researchers to inform practice, clinicians and service users should inform the research. Collaboration is required throughout the process: what to research, how to research, and importantly, how to get the findings out to the people who need the information to make change.
From the get-go service users and clinicians have been the driving force of the EQUITy project. Both have informed the research team on the enablers and barriers of receiving psychological support over the telephone. Audio recordings of patient-practitioner therapeutic sessions have been analysed and, paired with the patient and practitioner feedback from individual interviews and group workshops, the research team are now well equipped with the knowledge on what and how to improve practice. For all, research finding will be available within journals (you can find some that are already published here) but EQUITy have not stopped there.
They will be offering bespoke training to practitioners – allowing the team to disseminate the research findings in a way that is accessible, and meaningful, to clinicians. For service users and practitioners, an app has been developed to support and enhance the delivery of telephone interventions. The relationship EQUITy continues to harness with clinicians and service users means we are able to provide evidence-based resources, which have been developed in partnership with service users and practitioners, to further enhance the quality of psychological interventions delivered over the telephone.
Here, at EQUITy, we are developing a training intervention that allows us to disseminate our research findings in a way that is useful, thus powerful, for both clinicians and service users.
“Knowledge is power? No. Knowledge on its own is nothing, but the application of useful knowledge, now that is powerful.”
― Rob Liano