Role of Implementation Science to Inform Health Policy

Image of two women professionals having a conversation.

While implementation science has often focused on the adoption, implementation, and sustainment of a range of different interventions, concentrating on patients, providers, and systems, we see great opportunities for researchers studying implementation of cancer control policies. DCCPS has had a robust portfolio specifically in the tobacco research policy domain, but we recognize that other policy domains (e.g., diet and physical activity, HPV vaccination, built environment, labor, housing) also may have significant influence on the provision of cancer control interventions. We are continuing to explore how implementation science may contribute to understanding the translation of scientific evidence to health-related policy in governmental and non-governmental sectors—an area of inquiry that we refer to as policy implementation science (IS).

DCCPS is engaged with national stakeholders with expertise in national and global health policy who work in diverse disciplines, including political science and public policy, public health law, behavioral science, and social policy, among others. Together with colleagues at NCI and other federal agencies, the Implementation Science Team is exploring novel directions for areas of research focus and is working to understand the barriers and facilitators to the conduct of policy IS.

There are several key actions we are engaged in to build additional strength in the policy IS field. First, an upcoming DCCPS webinar series will include experts within and outside the cancer control community who will discuss how implementation scientists can conduct studies across the policy life cycle (e.g., formulation, implementation, sustainment). Second, we have made policy IS a recurring theme within the Implementation Science Consortium, which is intended to stimulate ideas for “public goods” that can support investigators working in underrepresented areas of science. Third, we are working to analyze the existing literature and grant portfolio to highlight additional gaps and opportunities. Taken as a whole, our efforts to support the field in advancing the knowledge base reflects the important role that policy IS can play in the improvement of population health.