Knowledge growth through research underpins improvements in Australia's health and health services. This research can be fundamental or can be applied, directly addressing clinical problems, public and environmental health issues or the provision of health services.
The creation of knowledge does not, of itself, lead to widespread implementation and positive impacts on health. The knowledge must be translated into changes in practice and policy for the benefits and impacts to flow to Australians.
Research translation has a variable timeline that is affected by many elements. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) facilitates the interaction between research and implementation to positively impact individual and public health through practice and policy changes. We do this through a number of initiatives, funding schemes and programs.
NHMRC's role in research translation
NHMRC is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992 (the Act) which aims to raise the standard of individual and public health in Australia. The Act enables NHMRC to engage in activities to achieve its intentions and foster the consideration of ethical issues relating to health.
Research translation has long been one of NHMRC's 3 strategic purposes, along with investment and integrity. NHMRC's Research Translation Strategy 2022–2025 sets out NHMRC's role in the translation of health and medical research into policy and practice, and the priority actions it will take to drive the translation of health and medical research.
What NHMRC is doing
One of NHMRC's primary responsibilities is supporting the effective and rapid translation of research findings into health policy and practice. Current measures include those in the following sections.
- The Research Translation Centre initiative encourages excellent health research and translation in Australia by bringing together researchers, healthcare providers, education and training to improve the health and well-being of patients and the populations they serve.
- The annual NHMRC Research Translation Symposium provides an opportunity to learn and share information about research translation.
- Partnership Projects contribute to translation by creating new opportunities for researchers and policy makers to work together to define research questions, undertake research, interpret the findings and implement the findings into policy and practice.
- Partnership Centres bring teams of researchers and decision-makers together to create better health services and health by collaborative work on priority themes determined by the needs of the health and health care systems.
- Centres of Research Excellence aim to improve health outcomes and promote or improve translation of research outcomes into policy and/or practice.
- Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants support high-quality clinical trials and cohort studies that address important gaps in knowledge, leading to relevant and implementable findings for the benefit of human health.
- Cochrane promotes evidence-informed health decision-making by translating research evidence into high-quality, relevant, accessible systematic reviews and other synthesized research evidence.
Guidelines translate research evidence into recommendations for clinical practice, public health and environmental health.