Implementation research methodologies for achieving scientific equity and health equity

Moira McNulty*, J. D. Smith, Juan Villamar, Inger Burnett-Zeigler, Wouter Vermeer, Nanette Benbow, Carlos Gallo, Uri Wilensky, Arthur Hjorth, Brian Mustanski, John Schneider, C. Hendricks Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Implementation science has great potential to improve the health of communities and individuals who are not achieving health equity. However, implementation science can exacerbate health disparities if its use is biased toward entities that already have the highest capacities for delivering evidence-based interventions. In this article, we examine several methodologic approaches for conducting implementation research to advance equity both in our understanding of what historically disadvantaged populations would need-what we call scientific equity-and how this knowledge can be applied to produce health equity. We focus on rapid ways to gain knowledge on how to engage, design research, act, share, and sustain successes in partnership with communities. We begin by describing a principle-driven partnership process between community members and implementation researchers to overcome disparities. We then review three innovative implementation method paradigms to improve scientific and health equity and provide examples of each. The first paradigm involves making efficient use of existing data by applying epidemiologic and simulation modeling to understand what drives disparities and how they can be overcome. The second paradigm involves designing new research studies that include, but do not focus exclusively on, populations experiencing disparities in health domains such as cardiovascular disease and co-occurring mental health conditions. The third paradigm involves implementation research that focuses exclusively on populations who have experienced high levels of disparities. To date, our scientific enterprise has invested disproportionately in research that fails to eliminate health disparities. The implementation research methods discussed here hold promise for overcoming barriers and achieving health equity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-92
Number of pages10
JournalEthnicity and Disease
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Community Partnerships
  • Health Inequity
  • Implementation Science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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