Written by Ana Baumann, PhD, Research Assistant Professor at the Brown School
If you were on Twitter during the week of September 13-14, you must have seen the handles #impsci and #SIRC2019 heavily trading, especially in Seattle. That’s because a number of us were attending the 5th Biannual Society for Implementation Research Collaboration (SIRC), hosted at the University of Washington. SIRC’s mission is to facilitate the communication and collaboration between implementation research teams, researchers, and community providers through several initiatives, including Network of Expertise, a Repository of Instrument Review, Implementation Development Workshop (IDW) and others.
For the past two years, several faculty and students from WashU have been leading SIRC in their roles as Officers. Dr. Rebecca Legnick-Hall was one of the SIRC Officers but today is one of the SIRC leaders collaborating in the Mechanisms Network of Expertise initiative. In our monthly calls and SIRC retreat hosted here at WashU, we helped draft the schedule for the 2019 SIRC Conference which, we were proud to see, included presentations from our WU community.
The conference started with the IDWs, one of the many benefits of being a SIRC member and part of the Network of Expertise. During the IDWs, SIRC members have their projects peer-reviewed by experts in the field in a safe environment. Several people have shared their successes and praised the platform, which is similar to the Center for Dissemination and Implementation’s WUNDIR peer review. In the afternoon, people participated in five workshops, including one led by our own Beth Prusaczyk, PhD, MSW on “Communicating Beyond the Academy: Engaging with the Public, the Press, and Policymakers”, and another co-led by Byron Powell on “Introduction to Implementation Science”.
The conference opened with a call to action from the American Psychology Association CEO, Arthur Evans asking us to reframe implementation science to advance the science and practice. There were several highlights on that day, including the talks on policy, talks given by practitioners on their collaboration with researchers, and meetings around mechanisms of implementation science. During lunch some of us met with Anne Sales, who shared her perspectives as editor of the Implementation Science journal and as the Editor-in-Chief of the Implementation Science Communications (note that our Rachel Tabak is one of the Associate Editors and I am on the Editorial Board of the journal.)
We heard talks about leadership, context, intermediary organizations, behavioral economics, implementation studies in healthcare settings and schools). The day ended with amazing Ignite presentations (a fast-paced, short presentational format), including one by Byron Powell and team on “A Multiple Case Study of a Tailored Approach to Implementing Measurement-based Care for Depression”, and one by WashU alum Cole Hooley on “Shared Goal, Different Languages: Communication between Implementation Researchers and Social Entrepreneurs”.
Later in the conference, we had as the second plenary speakers, the ACE Africa Team and Shannon Dorsey, from University of Washington, sharing their implementation challenges and solutions on their task-sharing work implementing mental-health care in western Kenya. To say that they received a standing ovation is an understatement: it was a lesson for all of us in terms of how conduct implementation in low-resource settings. During the day, the talks were again stellar. The topics included how to bridge the gap between implementation research and practice gap, the intersection of implementation science and healthcare policy and systems, implementation strategies, economic cost, adaptation, measures and tools to enhance implementation outcomes. I had the pleasure of presenting my work in collaboration with Leo Cabassa on implementation science and health equity on a panel organized and hosted by the Anne E. Casey Foundation.
Overall, laughs and jokes were intertwined with lessons learned and a call for action from the presenters, including attention to precision medicine, artificial intelligence, healthcare equity, and testing (not developing) of frameworks.
I am very proud to be part of a thriving and collaborative D&I network here at Washington University in St. Louis. The work of our community was highlighted at SIRC and I hope to continue learning from the D&I conferences but also here, at home, in our WUNDIR meetings, bootcamps, and from our DIRC services, or from coffee encounters with my fellow D&I collaborators.