Using implementation science to mitigate worsening health inequities in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic

Tyler A. Jacobson, Lauren E. Smith, Lisa R. Hirschhorn, Mark D. Huffman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

With the threat of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) enduring in the United States, effectively and equitably implementing testing, tracing, and self-isolation as key prevention and detection strategies remain critical to safely re-opening communities. As testing and tracing capacities increase, frameworks are needed to inform design and delivery to ensure their effective implementation and equitable distribution, and to strengthen community engagement in slowing and eventually stopping Covid-19 transmission. In this commentary, we highlight opportunities for integrating implementation research into planned and employed strategies in the United States to accelerate reach and effectiveness of interventions to more safely relax social distancing policies and open economies, schools, and other institutions. Implementation strategies, such as adapting evidence-based interventions based on contextual factors, promoting community engagement, and providing data audit and feedback on implementation outcomes, can support the translation of policies on testing, tracing, social distancing, and public mask use into reality. These data can demonstrate how interventions are put into practice and where adaptation in policy or practice is needed to respond to the needs of specific communities and socially vulnerable populations. Incorporating implementation research into Covid-19 policy design and translation into practice is urgently needed to mitigate the worsening health inequities in the pandemic toll and response. Applying rigorous implementation research frameworks and evaluation systems to the implementation of evidence-based interventions which are adapted to contextual factors can promote effective and equitable pandemic response and accelerate learning both among local stakeholders as well as between states to further inform their varied experiences and responses to the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number170
JournalInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Keywords

  • Contact tracing
  • Covid-19
  • Health inequities
  • Implementation outcomes
  • Implementation science
  • Social distancing policies
  • Testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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