From research to practice and back again

A variety of public health problems plague our communities and it is critical to understand their causes, consequences, and possible solutions. Two recent examples of research conducted to understand these problems are seen in the findings presented by the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NATSCEV) and The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. According to Acestudy.org, “the ACE Study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente. Led by Co-principal Investigators Robert F. Anda, MD, MS, and Vincent J. Felitti, MD, the ACE Study…analyz[es] the relationship between multiple categories of childhood trauma (ACEs), and health and behavioral outcomes later in life.” The study finds a strong connection between the effects on children exposed to abuse and negative childhood relationships and the impact on their future behavior and the strength of their coping skills in adulthood. Children who have experienced a certain number of ACES as children, and who may have not received some type of intervention or treatment, may be less successful and productive in society than those who either have fewer or no ACES or who have received an intervention.

Moving from research to practice—that is, making the results of research applicable to another population—can be described as translational research. The website ACE Response provides a great example of how researchers are trying to take their data, describing a public health problem, and moving it towards real applicable use.

This site is the brainchild of Dr. Heather Larkin of the University of Albany and a result of collaboration between the University at Albany School of Social Welfare and Prevent Child Abuse America. It was developed to “bridge the gap between ACE research data and its potential for real world application to prevent ACEs and ACE consequences through policy and program leadership, community development, and direct practice” (ACE website).

Another example of translational research is the Safe Start Initiative. In response to the public health issue of children exposed to violence, “ funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. the goal of the Safe Start Initiative is to broaden the knowledge of and promote community investment in evidence-based strategies for reducing the impact of children’s exposure to violence. For that purpose it provides resources to bridge research and practice around children’s exposure to violence and supports the implementation of evidence based practices in ten demonstration sites around the country (http://www.safestartcenter.org).  

The Safe Start Initiative Center also continues to exemplify it’s response through ongoing development of practical resources for the public:

Research Digest- “The Children Exposed to Violence Research Digest translates current research findings into practical advice for practitioners.”

Evidence Based Guidelines-Contains programs and interventions available for adaptation and use in the field.

Both Safe Start and the ACE Study are demonstrations of the potential that research has to reach beyond simply identifying a public health problem to addressing and maybe even eventually nullifying its effects.

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