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Translating healthcare research evidence into practice: The role of linked boundary objects

Melo, Sara; Bishop, Simon


Sara Melo


Recent years have seen widespread interest in the process of evidence implementation and growth of implementation science. Whilst this work has drawn attention to the challenges and complexities of implementing evidence into everyday practice, for the most part, studies of implementation uphold the ideal of a linear ‘pipeline’ between research and front-line care. In contrast, this paper adopts a practice perspective on knowledge, and draws on science and technology studies concepts to identify how the socio-material environment contributes to the translation of evidence across multiple organisational and professional boundaries. Findings report on a qualitative case study of implementing fall prevention research evidence at a large teaching hospital in Portugal. Data is from forty-six in-depth semi-structured interviews with clinical and non-clinical staff.
The case highlights how linked boundary objects bridge temporally sequential boundaries between research and different practice communities, hence facilitating the translation of research evidence into everyday practice. The initial boundary object (the ‘Morse’ fall risk assessment scale) contributed to evidence being taken up by specialist nurses within the hospital, while a second boundary object (a pink patient wristband) engendered a change in practice of a wider network of actors. Nevertheless, the symbolic connection between the two linked boundary objects remained precarious, dependent on networks of interaction and communication. The study highlights the role of material objects in the ongoing translation of research evidence into everyday clinical practice.


Melo, S., & Bishop, S. (2020). Translating healthcare research evidence into practice: The role of linked boundary objects. Social Science and Medicine, 246,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 12, 2019
Online Publication Date Dec 17, 2019
Publication Date 2020-02
Deposit Date Dec 16, 2019
Publicly Available Date Dec 18, 2020
Journal Social Science & Medicine
Print ISSN 0277-9536
Electronic ISSN 0277-9536
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 246
Article Number 112731
Keywords Portugal; boundary objects; linked boundary objects; knowledge translation; implementation research; interprofessional coordination; hospital; case study
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