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Optimising Translational Research Opportunities: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of Basic and Clinician Scientists' Perspectives of Factors Which Enable or Hinder Translational Research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0160475
JournalPLOS One
Issue number8
Accepted/In press20 Jul 2016
Published4 Aug 2016


King's Authors


Translational research is central to international health policy, research and funding initiatives. Despite increasing use of the term, the translation of basic science discoveries into clinical practice is not straightforward. This systematic search and narrative synthesis aimed to examine factors enabling or hindering translational research from the perspective of basic and clinician scientists, a key stakeholder group in translational research, and to draw policy-relevant implications for organisations seeking to optimise translational research opportunities.

Methods and Results:
We searched SCOPUS and Web of Science from inception until April 2015 for papers reporting scientists’ views of the factors they perceive as enabling or hindering the conduct of translational research.We screened 8,295 papers from electronic database searches and 20 papers from hand searches and citation tracking, identifying 26 studies of qualitative, quantitative or mixed method designs. We used a narrative synthesis approach and identified the following themes: 1) differing concepts of translational research 2) research processes as a barrier to translational research; 3) perceived cultural divide between research and clinical care; 4) interdisciplinary collaboration as enabling translation research, but dependent on the quality of prior and current social relationships; 5) translational research
as entrepreneurial science. Across all five themes, factors enabling or hindering translational research were largely shaped by wider social, organisational, and structural factors.

To optimise translational research, policy could consider refining translational research models to better reflect scientists’ experiences, fostering greater collaboration and buy in from all types of scientists. Organisations could foster cultural change, ensuring that organisational practices and systems keep pace with the change in knowledge production brought about by the translational research agenda.

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