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Model for bridging the translational "valleys of death" in spinal cord injury research

Authors Barrable B, Thorogood N, Noonan V, Tomkinson J, Joshi P, Stephenson K, Barclay J, Kovacs Burns K

Received 3 December 2013

Accepted for publication 15 February 2014

Published 16 April 2014 Volume 2014:6 Pages 15—27

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JHL.S58649

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Bill Barrable,1 Nancy Thorogood,1 Vanessa Noonan,1,2 Jocelyn Tomkinson,1 Phalgun Joshi,1 Ken Stephenson,1 John Barclay,1 Katharina Kovacs Burns3

1Rick Hansen Institute, 2Division of Spine, Department of Orthopaedics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, 3Health Sciences Council, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Abstract: To improve health care outcomes with cost-effective treatments and prevention initiatives, basic health research must be translated into clinical application and studied during implementation, a process commonly referred to as translational research. It is estimated that only 14% of health-related scientific discoveries enter into medical practice and that it takes an average of 17 years for them to do so. The transition from basic research to clinical knowledge and from clinical knowledge to practice or implementation is so fraught with obstacles that these transitions are often referred to as “valleys of death”. The Rick Hansen Institute has developed a unique praxis model for translational research in the field of spinal cord injury (SCI). The praxis model involves three components. The first is a coordinated program strategy of cure, care, consumer engagement, and commercialization. The second is a knowledge cycle that consists of four phases, ie, environmental scanning, knowledge generation and synthesis, knowledge validation, and implementation. The third is the provision of relevant resources and infrastructure to overcome obstacles in the “valleys of death”, ie, funding, clinical research operations, informatics, clinical research and best practice implementation, consumer engagement, collaborative networks, and strategic partnerships. This model, which is to be independently evaluated in 2018 to determine its strengths and limitations, has been used to advance treatments for pressure ulcers in SCI. The Rick Hansen Institute has developed an innovative solution to move knowledge into action by bridging the “valleys of death” in the research continuum, with the intention of improving health outcomes for people with SCI and decreasing the financial impact on the health care system. This model may be generalizable to other health conditions and the lessons learned in developing the praxis model may assist other organizations dealing with similar translational research challenges.

Keywords: spinal cord injuries, clinical outcomes, translational research, implementation, knowledge mobilization, praxis model


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