Feb 6, 2014
BACKGROUND: Healthcare–associated infections (HAIs) have long been the subject of research and prevention practice. When findings show potential to significantly impact outcomes, clinicians, policymakers, safety experts, and stakeholders seek to bridge the gap between research and practice by identifying mechanisms and assigning responsibility for translating research to practice. OBJECTIVES: This paper describes progress and challenges in HAI research and prevention practices, as explained through an examination of Health and Human Services (HHS) Action Plan's goals, inputs, and implementation in each area. RESEARCH DESIGN: We used the Context-Input-Process-Product evaluation model, together with an HAI prevention system framework, to assess the transformative processes associated with HAI research and adoption of prevention practices. RESULTS: Since the introduction of the Action Plan, HHS has made substantial progress in prioritizing research projects, translating findings from those projects into practice, and designing and implementing research projects in multisite practice settings. Research has emphasized the basic science and epidemiology of HAIs, the identification of gaps in research, and implementation science. The basic, epidemiological, and implementation science communities have joined forces to better define mechanisms and responsibilities for translating HAI research into practice. Challenges include the ongoing need for better evidence about intervention effectiveness, the growing implementation burden on healthcare providers and organizations, and challenges implementing certain practices. CONCLUSIONS: Although these HAI research and prevention practice activities are complex spanning multiple system functions and properties, HHS is making progress so that the right methods for addressing complex HAI problems at the interface of patient safety and clinical practice can emerge.