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Helping Health Service Researchers and Policy Makers Speak the Same Language

For decades, health services researchers have grappled with fundamental questions of how research can best inform policy and practice (Roper 1997; Hadley 2000; Epstein 2001; Fielding, Marks et al. 2002; Feder 2003; Bowen, Erickson et al.2009; Grimshaw, Eccles et al.2012). Yet researchers and policy makers largely remain “travelers in parallel universes” (Brownson, Royer et al. 2006) or in an “unrequited love affair” (Clancy, Glied et al. 2012). Policy makers may view research as something that is “off the shelf” and immediately ready for use. Researchers may perceive policy making as a singular event (Lomas 1997, 2000a,b, 2007). Educating each about the constraints and benefits of working together can help begin to address these misperceptions and missed opportunities (Coburn 1998; McBride, Coburn et al. 2008). While work coming out of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Eisenberg 2000; Clancy 2003; Clancy, Slutsky et al. 2004) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program (Clancy, Glied et al. 2012; Davis, Gross et al. 2012) provide examples of success, much remains to be done. Understanding and addressing barriers to productive collaboration is key for ensuring that health services research has a wide and enduring impact on how health care is actually delivered, a goal that funders are focused on as well.

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