Recommendations for Addressing Structural Racism in Implementation Science: A Call to the Field

Ethn Dis. 2021 May 20;31(Suppl 1):357-364. doi: 10.18865/ed.31.S1.357. eCollection 2021.


Implementation science (IS) has emerged in response to a striking research-to-practice gap, with the goal of accelerating and addressing the development, translation, and widespread uptake of evidence-based interventions (EBIs). Despite the promise of IS, critical gaps and opportunities remain within the field to explicitly facilitate health equity, particularly as they relate to the role of social determinants of health and structural racism. In this commentary, we propose recommendations for the field of IS to include structural racism as a more explicit focus of our work. First, we make the case for including structural racism as a construct and promote its measurement as a determinant within existing IS frameworks/models, laying the foundation for an empirical evidence base on mechanisms through which such factors influence inequitable adoption, implementation, and sustainability of EBIs. Second, we suggest considerations for both EBIs and implementation strategies that directly or indirectly address structural racism and impact health equity. Finally, we call for use of methods and approaches within IS that may be more appropriate for addressing structural racism at multiple ecological levels and clinical and community settings in which we conduct IS, including community-based participatory research and stakeholder engagement. We see these as opportunities to advance the focus on health equity within IS and conclude with a charge to the field to consider making structural racism and the dismantling of racism an explicit part of the IS research agenda.

PMID:34045837 | PMC:PMC8143847 | DOI:10.18865/ed.31.S1.357