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Innovation and Sustainability Integral to Research Program Design and Outcomes Implementation

Health research has led to significant discoveries, development of new therapies and improved health and health care. In an article set for publication in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing), writes that researchers need to be aware of contextual factors affecting their science in order to develop both innovative and sustainable programs of research that are crucial to solving important health issues.

In the article, Building Innovation and Sustainability in Programs of Research, she writes, “Innovation is spurred on by changing contexts and new discoveries and must be incorporated in research if we are not only to support further discoveries but also to develop sustainable solutions that can be implemented and sustained outside of the context of research.”

“The clear introduction and testing of innovations, which built upon previous processes or products, the relevance of the health issue and testing of new approaches to address this health issue, were factors in sustaining this program of research,” she continues. “Programs of research need to be focused on solving important health issues and must also consider the contextual social, political, and policy factors that could affect support of the research or subsequent innovation. In this way, we can develop sustainable research programs that solve health problems.”

Villarruel used her own experience in developing a program of research designed to reduce sexual risk behavior among Latino adolescents, and the subsequent development of an interventional program that has been disseminated and used by communities across the country, as examples of and direction for developing impactful programs of research.

“If there is one thing I would like researchers and innovators to take away from this article, it’s that developing a program of research is one thing, which requires one set of skills, but getting it into the hands of end users – so it can be put into practice – takes a variety of other skills and partnerships. All of these things must be considered,” said Villarruel.