Encouraging collaborations between researchers and commissioners: a qualitative evaluation of a knowledge mobilisation initiative

Talk Code: 

IntroductionWith the Research Excellent Framework, demonstrating ‘impact’ is gaining importance for researchers, while healthcare commissioners increasingly need to cite the ‘evidence’ behind their decisions. The aim of the knowledge mobilisation (KM) team is to encourage collaborations between commissioners and academics to foster 1) research-informed commissioning and 2) commissioning-informed research. The KM team consists of two commissioners (called NHS fellows) seconded into the Centre for Academic Primary Care (Bristol) and three researchers-in-residence seconded into Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group. The aim of this formative evaluation was to learn about their roles and activities.MethodsTwo sources of qualitative data were collected and analysed. An independent evaluator interviewed 19 people (13 researchers and 6 commissioners) who had contact with the KM team. Interviews were recorded and data were analysed deductively using framework analysis. Additionally, documentary data were analysed including reflective logs and essays from KM team members, quarterly progress reports, fortnightly KM team meeting minutes and diary analysis.ResultsThe activities of the KM team were categorised as relationship building, awareness raising, advice and consultation and developing collaborative projects such as evaluations and research bids. To build relationships, the NHS fellows “efficiently” and “quickly” introduced researchers to relevant commissioners and attended meetings to help translation between the two communities. The most successful exchanges occurred when researchers believed that commissioners held knowledge of equal value to that of researchers. To raise awareness, KM team members presented at 10 seminars in commissioning and academic settings a year. Advice and consultation included identifying opportunities for evaluation of commissioning initiatives (researchers-in-residence) and explaining the commissioning landscape (NHS fellows). To develop collaborative grants, the researchers-in-residence were attached to commissioning teams, identified common areas of interest, developed multi-disciplinary teams of researchers, commissioners and clinicians and drafted co-produced bid applications.ConclusionsThe breadth of activities that the KM team are engaged in is substantial. The next step is to clarify ways to assess the impact of these activities on fostering research-informed commissioning and commissioning-informed research.


  • Lesley Wye, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  • Michelle Farr, Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group, Bristol, UK
  • Helen Baxter, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  • Jude Carey, South West Commissioning Support Unit, Bristol, UK
  • Rachel Anthwal
  • James Rooney, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  • Rebecca Robinson, South West Commissioning Support Unit, Bristol, UK