StATS: Seventeen years between research and practice (November 2, 2005)

I attended an excellent talk by one of the nurses at CMH on the problems with implementing quality improvement initiatives in health care. She cited an interesting statistics, that it takes an average of 17 years for research findings to be implemented in clinical practice. I asked her for the source of this statistic, and she found several references to an article by Balas and Boren:

I don't have access to this article, but one publication that I do have provides a bit more detail about this statistic.

There has been increasing concern in the last few years about the failure of research findings to rapidly affect clinical practice. This failure has highlighted the difficulties clinicians encounter when trying to implement new approaches in their practices and the relative ineffectiveness of traditional methods such as continuing medical education and journal publications for disseminating new medical information. Using the results of a number of published studies, Balas and Boren estimated that it takes an average of 17 years to turn 14% of original research findings into changes in care that benefit patients. Primary care practice-based research networks: working at the interface between research and quality improvement. Mold JW, Peterson KA. Ann Fam Med 2005: 3 Suppl 1; S12-20. [Medline] [Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]

This is a rather interesting statistic, and I can think of many counterexamples where research results led to very rapid changes in clinical practice. I can also think of examples that support this particular statistic. I would be very curious to find out if there is any additional research that would provide empirical support for this statistic.

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