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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

UNC: Researcher Authors One of Three Most Cited Papers on Implementation Science

Dr. Sarah Birken, assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, is first author of an article that is currently among the three most-accessed papers in the journal Implementation Science.

The paper, titled “Middle managers’ role in implementing evidence-based practices in healthcare: a systematic review,” synthesizes the findings of 105 studies spanning several countries and health care settings. The researchers found that studies of middle managers’ role in health care evidence-based practices (EBP) implementation and its determinants substantially increased from 1996 to 2015; they also found evidence to suggest that middle managers significantly shape implementation climate.

Dr. Birken, who also is an alumna of the UNC Gillings School, conducted the review with help from several students in the health policy and management department.

“Fundamentally, implementation science is about putting evidence-based practices into use,” Dr. Birken said. “Our review suggests that there’s ample evidence of what health care practitioners have always known based on experience: Middle managers and supervisors often are the lynchpins of successful implementation in health care organizations. In light of this, our most important finding is that there’s insufficient evidence of what we can do to support middle managers in promoting EBP implementation. I think the potential for us to narrow the knowledge-action gap by supporting middle managers’ role in EPB implementation made this a particularly popular paper.”

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