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'Shooting in the dark': implications of the research-practice gap for enhancing research use in adult social care

Gray, Karen, Dibsdall, Lisa, Sumpter, Linda, Cameron, Ailsa, Willis, Paul ORCID:, Symonds, Jon, Jones, Matthew, McLeod, Hugh, Macdonald, Geraldine and Cabral, Christie 2024. 'Shooting in the dark': implications of the research-practice gap for enhancing research use in adult social care. Evidence & Policy 10.1332/17442648Y2024D000000024

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Background: Despite calls for greater use of research and an appetite to do so within adult social care, a gap persists between research and practice. Aims and objectives: To explore views of adult social care staff about research and its application to everyday practice. To understand how these might impact upon research use capacity-building initiatives within adult social care organisations. Methods: Thematic analysis of semi-structured qualitative interviews with 25 staff members working within the adult social care departments of three English local authorities. Findings: Participants characterised research as feeling separate from practice. They reflected on their use of it in relation to pressures affecting adult social care and identified a lack of relevant research. Research benefiting service users, supporting individual practice or informing organisational decision-making was considered useful. However, research could also be viewed as a luxury where its findings were felt to represent an ‘ideal’ rather than real world of practice or did not accord with practice knowledge or local experience. Discussion and conclusions: While participants feel positively towards research, there remains a gap between these perceptions and its use in practice. There remains a need to improve research relevance and accessibility and to clarify its role in decision-making in social care, including where there is no evidence, where evidence challenges existing practice, or where the evidence base is growing. Collaborative partnerships between adult social care organisations, researchers and service users could help to narrow the research–practice gap and support the routine translation of research to practice.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Policy Press
ISSN: 1744-2648
Funders: NIHR Health and Social Care Delivery Research
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 April 2024
Date of Acceptance: 28 February 2024
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2024 03:01

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