by Luana Marques, PhD

Luana Marques, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist in the states of Massachusetts and New York and an expert in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Dr. Marques is the director and founder of Community Psychiatry Program for Research in Implementation and Dissemination of Evidence-Based Treatments (PRIDE), and an associate professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. Community Psychiatry PRIDE is a dissemination and implementation psychiatry research center that focuses on reducing mental health disparities in communities across Massachusetts. The program is designed to study the process by which evidence-based treatments (EBTs) can be effectively disseminated to community clinics, which in turn leads to increased access and quality of care across a wide range of psychiatric disorders.

On average, it takes 17 years for an evidence-based treatment to reach the community, and because of stigma, it may take an additional 10 years before a person suffering from mental illness actually receives treatment. The goal of implementation science is to address this gap between science and practice, helping the most vulnerable people to access high quality care. Providers and researchers are both crucial to bridging research to practice, especially in community settings. Evidence shows that when we close the gap between science and practice, clinicians make better decisions, which can lead to better patient outcomes. So, then, why does the gap still exist? Anyone on either side of the science-practice gap can take steps throughout their career to help close this gap:

Researchers

  • Researchers need to design and market their innovations in ways that make sense to clinicians.
  • Researchers would benefit from including clinicians in the initial development stages, and iteratively ask for feedback from the very clinicians who will end up using the researcher’s innovations.

Clinicians

  • Clinicians would benefit from taking time to digest innovations into their practice, despite the initial training burden.

Both Researchers and Clinicians

  • As those early in their careers contemplate what added value they can have to the field, both researchers and clinicians can seek out both research and clinical mentors.

These steps require everyone to communicate openly and honestly. Although bridge_0.jpgthese steps may be difficult, because it is human nature to be drawn toward the familiar, bridging the gap between science and practice requires everyone to reach beyond their comfort zones. When each one of us takes responsibility, we have the opportunity to both narrow the gap and improve the quality of life for our patients.