Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs) were funded by NIHR in England in 2008 and 2014 as partnerships between universities and surrounding health service organisations, focused on improving the quality of healthcare through the conduct and application of applied health research. The aim of this review is to synthesise learning from evaluations of the CLAHRCs.
Fifteen databases including CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE and PsycINFO were searched to identify any evaluations of CLAHRCs. Current and archived CLAHRC websites and the reference lists of retrieved articles were scanned to identify any additional evaluations. Searches were restricted to English language only. Any publications from evaluations of the CLAHRCs were eligible for inclusion if they fulfilled at least one of three pre-specified inclusion criteria. A narrative synthesis was undertaken.
Twenty-six evaluations (reported in 37 papers) were deemed eligible for inclusion. Evaluations focused on describing and exploring the formative partnerships, vision, values, structures and processes of CLAHRCs; the nature and role of boundaries; the deployment of knowledge brokers and hybrid roles to support knowledge mobilisation; patient and public involvement; and capacity building. The relative lack of data about the early impact of CLAHRCs on health care provision or outcomes is notable.
Much of the evaluative focus on CLAHRCs has been on how they have been organised and on the development of theory around their emergent properties. Evidence is lacking on the impact of CLAHRCs particularly in relation to the knowledge mobilisation processes and practices adopted. Further evaluation of CLAHRCs and other similar research and practice partnerships is warranted and should focus on which knowledge mobilisation approaches work where, how and why.