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This report catalogues work undertaken in the first of three phases of an evaluation of the nine Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs) established in October 2008 by the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The CLAHRCs aim to encourage and strengthen collaboration between universities and local NHS organisations so that patient outcomes are improved through the conduct of applied health research and its implementation. Each of the nine CLAHRCs, established in October 2008, will receive up to 10 million pounds over five years. The focus of Phase I of the research was to work collaboratively with all the CLAHRCs to build an understanding of their approaches and theories of change to address what is traditionally called the 'second translation gap' (i.e. the gap in health research translation that refers to implementing research-informed product and service innovations into clinical practice). Phase II will focus on exploring the following issues: the extent and ways in which the NHS influences the CLAHRCs' evolution, outcomes and impacts; the CLAHRCs' role in building effective multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary teams for service improvements and the mechanisms through which CLAHRCs attempt to use research knowledge and evidence to change commissioning and clinical behaviour for patient benefit. The third phase will explore the implications of our findings for improving current policy and practice in the establishment of 'beneficial forward-looking partnerships between universities and their surrounding NHS organisations', including contributions to increase the capacity of NHS organisations to engage with and apply research ('absorptive capacity') and to encourage the effective involvement of patients and the public.

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The research in this report was prepared for the NIHR Service Delivery and Organisation programme and conducted by RAND Europe.

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