Barriers to engagement in implementation science research: A national survey

Elizabeth R. Stevens, Donna Shelley, Bernadette Boden-Albala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Low levels of engagement in implementation science (IS) among health researchers is a multifaceted issue. With the aim of guiding efforts to increase engagement in IS research, we sought to identify barriers to engagement in IS within the health research community. We performed an online survey of health researchers in the United States in 2018. Basic science researchers were excluded from the sample. IS engagement was measured by self-reported conduct of or collaboration on an IS study in the past 5 years. Potential barriers tested were (a) knowledge and awareness of IS, (b) attitudes about IS research, (c) career benefits of IS, (d) research community support, and (e) research leadership support. We performed simple logistic regressions and tested multivariable logistic regression models of researcher characteristics and potential barriers as predictors of IS engagement. Of the 1,767 health researchers, 49.7% indicated they engaged in an implementation study. Being able to define IS (aOR 3.42, 95%CI 2.68-4.36, p <. 001) and having attended IS training (aOR 3.77, 95%CI 2.96-4.81, p <. 001) were associated with engaging in IS research. Among other potential barriers tested, perceptions that engaging in IS would not be good for their career (aOR 0.29, 95%CI 0.2-0.41, p <. 001) was strongly associated with decreased engagement in IS research. Efforts to increase researcher familiarity with IS methods and foster support for IS within research communities, along with decreasing barriers to funding and publishing, are likely to be most effective for increasing engagement in IS research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-418
Number of pages11
JournalTranslational Behavioral Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • Barriers
  • Engagement
  • Implementation science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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