Improvement Science and Implementation Science in Cancer Care: Identifying Areas of Synergy and Opportunities for Further Integration.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

Efforts to improve cancer care primarily come from two fields: improvement science and implementation science. The two fields have developed independently, yet they have potential for synergy. Leveraging that synergy to enhance alignment could both reduce duplication and, more importantly, enhance the potential of both fields to improve care. To better understand potential for alignment, we examined 20 highly cited cancer-related improvement science and implementation science studies published in the past 5 years, characterizing and comparing their objectives, methods, and approaches to practice change. We categorized studies as improvement science or implementation science based on authors' descriptions when possible; otherwise, we categorized studies as improvement science if they evaluated efforts to improve the quality, value, or safety of care, or implementation science if they evaluated efforts to promote the implementation of evidence-based interventions into practice. All implementation studies (10/10) and most improvement science studies (6/10) sought to improve uptake of evidence-based interventions. Improvement science and implementation science studies employed similar approaches to change practice. For example, training was employed in 8/10 implementation science studies and 4/10 improvement science studies. However, improvement science and implementation science studies used different terminology to describe similar concepts and emphasized different methodological aspects in reporting. Only 4/20 studies (2 from each category) described using a formal theory or conceptual framework to guide program development. Most studies were multi-site (10/10 implementation science and 6/10 improvement science) and a minority (2 from each category) used a randomized design. Based on our review, cancer-related improvement science and implementation science studies use different terminology and emphasize different methodological aspects in reporting but share similarities in purpose, scope, and methods, and are at similar levels of scientific development. The fields are well-positioned for alignment. We propose that next steps include harmonizing language and cross-fertilizing methods of program development and evaluation.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Check, DK; Zullig, LL; Davis, MM; Davies, L; Chambers, D; Fleisher, L; Kaplan, SJ; Proctor, E; Ramanadhan, S; Schroeck, FR; Stover, AM; Koczwara, B

Published Date

  • January 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 36 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 186 - 195

PubMed ID

  • 32869193

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7859137

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1525-1497

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11606-020-06138-w


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States