Public health research implementation and translation: Evidence from practice-based research networks

Glen P. Mays, Rachel A. Hogg, Doris M. Castellanos-Cruz, Anna G. Hoover, Lizeth C. Fowler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background Research on how best to deliver efficacious public health strategies in heterogeneous community and organizational contexts remains limited. Such studies require the active engagement of public health practice settings in the design, implementation, and translation of research. Practice-based research networks (PBRNs) provide mechanisms for research engagement, but until now they have not been tested in public health settings. Purpose This study uses data from participants in 14 public health PBRNs and a national comparison group of public health agencies to study processes influencing the engagement of public health settings in research implementation and translation activities. Methods A cross-sectional network analysis survey was fielded with participants in public health PBRNs approximately 1 year after network formation (n=357) and with a nationally representative comparison group of U.S. local health departments not participating in PBRNs (n=625). Hierarchic regression models were used to estimate how organizational attributes and PBRN network structures influence engagement in research implementation and translation activities. Data were collected in 2010-2012 and analyzed in 2012. Results Among PBRN participants, both researchers and practice agencies reported high levels of engagement in research activities. Local public health agencies participating in PBRNs were two to three times more likely than nonparticipating agencies to engage in research implementation and translation activities (p<0.05). Participants in less densely connected PBRN networks and in more peripheral locations within these networks reported higher levels of research engagement, greater perceived benefits from engagement, and greater likelihood of continued participation. Conclusions PBRN networks can serve as effective mechanisms for facilitating research implementation and translation among public health practice settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)752-762
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Grant #64676 ). Glen Mays also was supported through a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the NIH (Award UL1TR000117 ). Anna Hoover also was supported through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program (Award P42 ES007380 ). Contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Public health research implementation and translation: Evidence from practice-based research networks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this