Implementation Science Q&A With Program Director Ralph Gonzales

Ralph Gonzales, MD, MSPH

Ralph Gonzales, MD, MSPH

Implementation Science FAQ with Ralph Gonzales, MD, a professor in the UCSF School of Medicine, and director of the Implementation Science program at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).

Q: What is Implementation Science (ImS) all about?

A: ImS gives researchers the tools and skills to adapt health interventions to real-world environments. That includes identifying barriers to change, employing new strategies and skills, supporting collaborations and achieving improvements in health care practices that are sustainable and reproducible in different settings.

Q: What types of health interventions are involved?

A: The list includes but is not limited to medications, tests, procedures and programs.

Q: What sorts of tools and skills are needed to practice ImS?

A: Researchers need to be able to affect sustainable change in individuals, communities, institutions, and policies. That includes identifying barriers to change, asking the right questions, performing qualitative research and analysis, effective study design, grant writing and community engagement, among other things.

Q: What are some of the real-world contexts involved in ImS?

A: The settings are as diverse as you can imagine. They range from rural health centers in developing countries and urban emergency room to intensive care units and entire health care systems. 

Q: What are some of the myths or misconceptions about ImS?

A: Some researchers don’t think that the NIH funds this type of research, or they may not even be aware that the work they’re doing involves Implementation Science.

Q: If a researcher already has training in public health, how can he or she benefit from ImS training?

A: While ImS incorporates many public health practices, it embodies and applies theories and principles from other disciplines as well, such as economics, behavioral and social sciences, and marketing. An expanded tool kit gives researchers and clinicians the skills and methodologies they need to design interventions that are targeted to their own unique circumstances, yet are generalizable and reproducible in other settings as well.

Q: How can I find ImS resources at UCSF or learn more?

A: CTSI provides information on training, expert advice, and campus resources, and manages the Training in Clinical Research program. Researchers interested in learning more or joining a growing community of ImS researchers at UCSF can contact Ralph Gonzales or Margaret Handley

Photo by Susan Merrell