The science behind rehabilitation implementation

The 2023 Implementation Science Health Conference Australia (ISHCA 23) on 23–24 March 2023 provided the opportunity to showcase the ReLAB-HS implementation science training for rehabilitation leaders that was a collaboration between Associate Professor Lucio Naccarella from the University of Melbourne and Physiopedia.

The introductory course on Implementation Science, called Implementing Evidence-Based Rehabilitation Using Implementation Science, was published in February 2022. The aim of the course is to increase knowledge about implementation science – and specifically implementation research and practice – as a way of facilitating implementation efforts to change, adopt, implement and sustain evidence-based rehabilitation interventions, programmes or practices.

“This course was interesting, well organized and easily understandable. It helps rehab professionals with the implementation of evidence-based practice in their respective workplaces in a systematic way.” Amir Zeb, Physiotherapist, Pakistan

Implementation science is the practice of applying evidence-based research into clinical practice. There are many stakeholders and steps involved when pioneering new interventions into practice, and new interventions need to be tailored to individual settings and cultural norms. In this course, Lucio discusses barriers to implementation as well as different frameworks for executing new programmes; to date, more than 214 people have participated.  

“Before I attended this course, I had minimal knowledge of implementation science. Now I know more about what I need to consider at the different levels, to question before the implementation, and so on. Therefore, I am happy I attended this course.“ Hsu Wai Mon Oo, Physiotherapist, Myanmar

In August 2022, 4 more courses were published to form a 16-hour foundational training and mentorship programme. 

The training and mentorship included asynchronous activities (online courses and key learning activities), synchronous activities (webinars) and discussions (hosted on the ReLAB-HS Rehabilitation Community), and was piloted in Pakistan and Uganda in 2022. 

The results from this pilot training and mentorship programme were recently presented by Lucio at the Implementation Science Conference in Sydney, Australia (23–24 March, 2023) – click image to view the poster. 

Overall, the poster generated much discussion as it highlighted ‘Implementation Science Capability Building in Rehabilitation’ – a topic that was clearly under-recognised amongst conference attendees. Given the conference theme of “Sustainment & Scale Up”, key questions often included: “how to sustain and scale up the implementation science capability building amongst rehabilitation leaders?” – a key challenge for us. Overall, discussion from the conference confirmed the importance of this work and the challenges ahead. 

A second cohort of participants are currently taking part in the full mentorship programme under the expert guidance of Lucio.

This work is supported by the USAID funded Learning Acting Building for Rehabilitation in Health Systems (ReLAB-HS) project and is not possible without the generous and committed contribution of the Leahy War Victims fund.

ReLAB-HS is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented under cooperative agreement number 7200AA20CA00033. The consortium is managed by prime recipient, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.