Reflections on Implementation Science and Its Role in Promoting Health Equity

Amira Haidar, MPH
Amira Haidar, MPH
March 2024

In the realm of public health, the gap between evidence-based research and real-world application has long been a challenge. It's a puzzle that, when solved, holds the key to unlocking transformative change in communities worldwide. I was first introduced to implementation science during my master’s program when I enrolled in a course titled "Dissemination and Implementation Science in Public Health." Through this course, I learned some of the reasons why evidence-based innovations often fail to achieve their intended outcomes and how implementation science can support the successful implementation of interventions. Through theoretical frameworks, methodologies, and case studies, I gained insights into the intricate factors influencing the successful integration of evidence-based interventions into practice. I became incredibly interested in understanding the complex factors influencing the successful adoption and integration of evidence-based interventions into real-world settings, and particularly, implementation science’s potential in supporting the advancement of health equity. 

After taking the course, I knew that it wouldn’t be the last time I delved into the implementation science field, especially after beginning to discover its role in promoting health equity. Upon graduating and joining the National Institutes of Health through the Presidential Management Fellowship, a 2-year training and leadership development program within the federal government, I found myself joining the Implementation Science (IS) team within the Division of Cancer Control and Population Science at the National Cancer Institute for the first rotation of my fellowship. In the 4 months I’ve spent with the team, my journey through implementation science has been incredibly diverse and fulfilling. 

My rotation kicked off with my participation in the Consortium for Cancer Implementation Science—a cross-collaborative initiative focused on cancer control priorities and innovative solutions in implementation science. Here, I observed firsthand the synergy created when researchers, community partners, and other stakeholders come together to address the most pressing challenges and innovative solutions in cancer implementation science. I then had the opportunity to conduct an analysis on the current engagement methods of the consortium with the purpose of diversifying and expanding involvement. Through a series of informational interviews, I learned about what keeps others motivated in the field of cancer implementation science and what can be done to continue nurturing and expanding these motivations in the setting of the consortium. A priority of this analysis was to discover strategies to bring in more community partners. Community partners are indispensable in advancing health equity by fostering trust, addressing social determinants of health, and promoting culturally responsive care. By collaborating with community members, organizations, and leaders, implementation scientists can build more meaningful relationships, co-create interventions that address the root causes of health disparities, and deliver care that is respectful of diverse backgrounds.  

Another pivotal moment during my time with the IS team was attending the Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health. Through engaging with experts, attending panels, and immersing myself in poster sessions, I gained invaluable insights into the breadth and depth of implementation science, with a keen focus on the potential of health policy and promoting health equity. The conference further demonstrated a commitment of the field to supporting health equity by providing a platform to explore strategies for addressing disparities and ensuring research findings reach underserved populations effectively. 

My time with the IS team was also characterized by continuous learning and growth. I had the opportunity to engage in various working groups, dive into implementation science literature, learn new skills, and watch webinars, which have all been instrumental in expanding my knowledge and skill set. For example, collaborating with fellow team members, I conducted a portfolio analysis of research funded by the National Cancer Institute at the intersection of policy and implementation science. This project deepened my understanding of the multifaceted nature of policy in implementation science, not only as a directive to be adopted or implemented but also as context that can influence or a strategy that can shape and support effective implementation of cancer control interventions. I’ve always been interested in the use of policy as a critical tool for promoting health equity – and with the application of equitable policies through the use of implementation science methods, systemic disparities can be effectively addressed. 

Ultimately, my journey through implementation science has been nothing short of transformative. From classroom discussions to real-world applications, each step has deepened my understanding and passion for this critical field and its potential to advance health equity. As I embark on the next chapter of my career, I am grateful for the opportunities that lie ahead and energized by the prospect of driving meaningful change through implementation science with a steadfast commitment to health equity. 

Amira Haidar, MPH
Amira Haidar, MPH
Amira Haidar MPH, is a former Presidential Management Fellow who completed a rotation with the Implementation Science (IS) Team in the Office of the Director in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute.


Dispatches from Implementation Science at NCI

Dispatches from the Implementation Science Team, is an episodic collection of short form updates, authored by members and friends of the IS team representing a sample of the work being done and topics that our staff are considering for future projects. Topics address some of the advances in implementation science, ongoing issues that affect the conduct of research studies, reflections on fellowships and meetings, as well as new directions for activity from our research and practice communities.

Last Updated
March 14, 2024