Implementation Science, a field of research that has grown rapidly over the last two decades, studies methods to promote systematic uptake in research findings and other evidence-based practices into routine practice to improve health services’ quality and efficacy. Recognizing the value this burgeoning field of study could bring to patients globally, St. Jude launched the St. Jude (SJCRH)–Washington University St. Louis (WUSTL) Implementation Sciences Collaboration (ISC) in 2020 to enhance St. Jude’s impact on treating childhood cancers by maximizing the dissemination and implementation of current and future research findings, intervention-based approaches and cancer control programs. Initially, the collaboration’s primary focus was disseminating and implementing findings related to pediatric global medicine, human papillomavirus (HPV) cancer prevention and survivorship health care. However, the collaborators quickly determined their already broad and ambitious program needed more capacity to address other major pediatric catastrophic diseases, such as sickle cell disease.
The collaborative has three extramurally funded projects involving WUSTL and SJCRH investigators. In 2022, the collaborative used these resources to cultivate existing projects and build the infrastructure to support early-stage and future endeavors. The pilot data obtained through ISC support proved valuable to the collaboration; five additional extramural funding submissions are planned, and additional developmental funds were awarded for three projects. Notably, the projects’ findings have been disseminated through over twenty submissions or publications in peer-reviewed journals, conference abstracts and oral presentations.
One of the primary challenges ISC aimed to tackle in 2022 was properly implementing the Children’s Oncology Group's Long-Term Follow-Up Guidelines (COG LTFU Guidelines) in community settings.
A "Think Tank," involving ISC members and other subject matter experts, convened to re-evaluate implementation practices, identify strategies, and define a research agenda to address the knowledge deficits leading to the sub-optimal implementation of COG LTFU Guidelines and inform interventions to improve guideline-adherent care.
Other ongoing research investigations are evaluating aspects of survivorship care, such as cardiovascular or reproductive health, and assessing survivors’ and providers’ perceptions and preferences regarding how health information is conveyed. These projects have identified both domestic and global impacts derived from strong relationships with state government divisions and foreign health ministries to address dissemination and implementation concerns within their communities.
Lead: Melissa Hudson, MD — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Gregory Armstrong, MD — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Nickhill Bhakta, MD — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Heather Brandt, PhD — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Lisa Klesges, PhD, MS — Washington University St. Louis
Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, MD — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Erika Waters, MD, MPH — Washington University St. Louis