Sunday, August 28, 2022

Making Research Matter

 Health and Care Researchers

Tara Lamont. 2021. Bristol University Press [ISBN 978-1-4473-6115-2. 198 pages, including index. US$34.95 (softcover).]

“Researchers start their work wanting to make a difference. The extra steps and actions set out in this book and elsewhere to reach and engage people in meaningful ways, paying attention to story, language and appropriate channels are part of the job of a researcher in the 21st century. Research findings should not stay in the library or on the university bookshelf. They should be translated and worked up with the right communities into new policies, decisions, conversations and practice” (p. 166). This summary statement of Making Research Matter: Steps to Impact for Health and Care Researchers by Tara Lamont embodies her argument that the relevance of current research and its resulting impact on society are critical now more than ever.

Lamont’s introduction uses her own storytelling tools of chapter 8, the example of Florence Nightingale and her report to the Indian Sanitary Commission, published in 1863. The “pull” Nightingale created for her report included concise and orderly summaries with vivid images. These briefs were circulated among people like John Stuart Mill and even Queen Victoria- people whose support she would need later in promoting the policy and reforms suggested in her report. Nightingale forged ties with decision makers who could implement reforms themselves or communicate with others for influential changes. And she did it all without Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn! It is proof that the skills of impact for research resonate then as they do now despite the vast difference in the technological tools available.

Making Research Matter starts each chapter using the Why, What, Who, When and How format. The Why follows the introduction to clarify the overall importance of her book. In the current information and digital climate, the sheer amount of research available has increased exponentially. It is important for people to discern valuable research from either false data or irrelevant results. Valuable research involves asking the right questions of the population involved. One example compared mechanical devices to manual compressions in treating cardiac arrest in an ambulance. A high-quality research study proved that the outcomes for each showed negligible difference, and therefore the cost of implementation was not worth it. However, when staff were interviewed, they said that the technology allowed them to sit securely in a seatbelt which made them feel safer. This detail addressed a separate issue from cost analysis and could only be determined through interviewing the right people.

Lamont’s arguments for increased communication and interaction between researchers, policy makers, and lay people describes an ideal culture of collaboration, support for necessary reform and openness to change. It is her hope that researchers in all areas of health and care examine their skills, interest, and investment in this type of exchange for the enhanced quality, relevance, and implementation of valuable research findings into all areas of healthcare and wellness.