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Yano EM. The role of organizational research in implementing evidence-based practice: QUERI Series. Implementation science : IS. 2008 May 29; 3:29.
BACKGROUND: Health care organizations exert significant influence on the manner in which clinicians practice and the processes and outcomes of care that patients experience. A greater understanding of the organizational milieu into which innovations will be introduced, as well as the organizational factors that are likely to foster or hinder the adoption and use of new technologies, care arrangements and quality improvement (QI) strategies are central to the effective implementation of research into practice. Unfortunately, much implementation research seems to not recognize or adequately address the influence and importance of organizations. Using examples from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI), we describe the role of organizational research in advancing the implementation of evidence-based practice into routine care settings. METHODS: Using the six-step QUERI process as a foundation, we present an organizational research framework designed to improve and accelerate the implementation of evidence-based practice into routine care. Specific QUERI-related organizational research applications are reviewed, with discussion of the measures and methods used to apply them. We describe these applications in the context of a continuum of organizational research activities to be conducted before, during and after implementation. RESULTS: Since QUERI's inception, various approaches to organizational research have been employed to foster progress through QUERI's six-step process. We report on how explicit integration of the evaluation of organizational factors into QUERI planning has informed the design of more effective care delivery system interventions and enabled their improved "fit" to individual VA facilities or practices. We examine the value and challenges in conducting organizational research, and briefly describe the contributions of organizational theory and environmental context to the research framework. CONCLUSION: Understanding the organizational context of delivering evidence-based practice is a critical adjunct to efforts to systematically improve quality. Given the size and diversity of VA practices, coupled with unique organizational data sources, QUERI is well-positioned to make valuable contributions to the field of implementation science. More explicit accommodation of organizational inquiry into implementation research agendas has helped QUERI researchers to better frame and extend their work as they move toward regional and national spread activities.