Pandemics, dragons, and drama – using research to improve health care

Every minute someone is diagnosed with a disease or a condition. Research has the potential to improve the quality and outcomes of their care. Yet despite the UK investing around £1.6 billion annually in health research its impact is limited, and uptake takes on average 17 years. Despite vast resources aimed at bridging this ‘implementation gap’, this stubborn problem has persisted. 

But COVID shows that the benefits of research can be accelerated when need, opportunity and resources align.  However, COVID also illustrates that knowledge (of transmission, treatment, and prevention) alone is insufficient to prevent the pandemics impact on complex human societies.

Closing gaps between evidence, knowledge and action is also the mission of the Knowledge Mobilisation Alliance, a diverse group of academics who work with the public, practitioners, and researchers to move knowledge closer to where it can effect change. Our diverse work shows that sharing knowledge (including research) across communities and contexts, using creative and social means is key to catalysing change. It also nurtures mutual understanding and shared responsibility for the quality and outcomes of health. For example, by using a Dragon to promote effective eczema management and Forum Theatre to improve trauma care.

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