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Preventing Chronic Disease | Research to Reality: Moving Evidence Into Practice Through an Online Community of Practice - CDC

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Preventing Chronic Disease | Research to Reality: Moving Evidence Into Practice Through an Online Community of Practice - CDC

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Research to Reality: Moving Evidence Into Practice Through an Online Community of Practice

Margaret M. Farrell, MPH, RD; Madeline La Porta, MS; Alissa Gallagher, MPH; Cynthia Vinson, PhD, MPA; Sarah Bruce Bernal, MA

Suggested citation for this article: Farrell MM, La Porta M, Gallagher A, Vinson C, Bernal SB. Research to Reality: Moving Evidence Into Practice Through an Online Community of Practice. Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:130272. DOI: Web Site Icon.


How can a community of practice help further the practical application of cancer control research? In 2011, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched an online community of practice, Research to Reality (R2R). R2R aims to infuse evidence-based strategies into communities by engaging researchers and practitioners in a joint approach to research dissemination. To measure community growth and engagement, NCI measures data across 3 program domains: content, interaction, and activity. NCI uses Web analytics, usability testing, and content analyses to manage and evaluate R2R. As of December 2013, R2R had more than 1,700 registered members. More than 500 researchers and practitioners register for the monthly cyber-seminars, and 40% return each month. R2R hosts more than 15,500 page views and 5,000 site visits in an average month. This article describes the process of convening this online community and quantifies our experiences to date.


Dissemination, the targeted distribution of information and intervention materials to a specific public health or clinical practice audience, is a critical aspect of cancer control practice. Dissemination strategies for evidence-based interventions aim to spread knowledge and interventions on a wide scale in or across geographic locations, practice settings, or social or other networks of end users such as patients and health care providers (1). Traditional dissemination strategies (ie, publishing in peer-reviewed journals; presenting at professional conferences; and academic detailing, a form of professional outreach) are essential but not sufficient to inform cancer control practice. Translating research into everyday practice is a critical problem in both clinical and public health arenas, and the goal of implementing scientific evidence into practice remains unmet (2–5).

In general, researchers in academia are responsible for developing and conducting research studies that generate evidence, and clinicians and practitioners are responsible for adapting evidence into everyday practice (6). Therefore, building authentic partnerships between researchers and practitioners is central to successful translation efforts (7,8). Strong community partnerships provide access to populations and engender the trust necessary to implement evidence-based interventions. However, the practical application of research remains challenging for both researchers and practitioners. Community engagement has been largely successful in bridging the gap between researchers and community practitioners (9,10). A forum is needed to allow both to engage in an ongoing dialogue about their mutual goal of improving lives by putting research into practice in the field.

Author Information

Corresponding Author: Margaret M. Farrell, MPH, RD, National Cancer Institute, 9609 Medical Center Dr, Room 4E444, Bethesda, MD 20892. Telephone: 240-276-6636. E-mail:
Author Affiliations: Madeline La Porta, Alissa Gallagher, Cynthia Vinson, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland; Sarah Bruce Bernal, ICF International, Fairfax, Virginia.


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