Interdisciplinary Research

Characteristics of Successful Research Collaborations1,2

Category Characteristics
Structural
  • Comprised of a small number of multi-professional teams
  • Standardized methods for planning, communicating, convening meetings and decision making and regularly scheduled meetings
  • Formal agreements for data sharing and other collaborative activities
  • Core administrative staff and structure
  • External funding, often from multiple sources
Process
  • Clear and explicit shared research goals and objectives
  • Clear articulation and agreement regarding research gaps
  • Knowledge and experience with the change process
  • Acceptance, validation, commitment, synergy among collaborators
  • Strong and clear leadership
  • Contributions made and recognized by all partners
  • Minimal wasting of time, highly efficient work processes
  • Participants exchange ideas outside of regular meetings
  • Active involvement of students
  • Team members receive formal training in interdisciplinary research
  • Members understand the values and viewpoints of others
Outcomes
  • Measurable work products, including publications, dissertations, presentations and funded grants

Conceptual Underpinnings

Conceptual underpinnings for interdisciplinary research to reduce infections.

CIRI has developed interdisciplinary research teams to build the foundation for long-term collaboration. Using an iterative process3, we have developed a model of interdisciplinary research to address the translational blocks described by Sung et al4. The focus is on research designed to improve individual clinical outcomes, systems of care delivery, and, ultimately, to influence health policy. This framework calls for the integration of health and risk communication, economics, informatics, epidemiology, and health services with the basic research and disciplinary expertise of the team members. While the research focus of CIRI is on reducing infections, we also have expertise and a strong success record of working with vulnerable populations.

Examples of Potential Topics for Interdisciplinary Demonstration Projects

Example Demonstration Project Required Disciplines
  • Developing early warning surveillance systems using informatics techniques for community or hospital outbreaks with multi-resistant organisms
  • Infectious diseases, molecular epidemiology, informatics, microbiology, community liaisons
  • Evaluating targeted health communication strategies for high risk subpopulations
  • Health and risk communication, education, informatics, epidemiology, health services research, multicultural expertise
  • Examining and comparing molecular markers of resistance in human populations
  • Genetics, molecular epidemiology
  • Testing promising rapid screening methods
  • Microbiology, infectious diseases, economics, epidemiology
  • Describing knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding antibiotic use in immigrant populations
  • Epidemiology, health services research, risk communication, community liaisons
  • Intervention to improve judicious use of antibiotics in vulnerable / high risk groups
  • Clinical trials, risk communication, epidemiology, infectious diseases, policy
  • Assessing impact of real-time electronic microbiologic surveillance on development of nosocomial antibiotic resistance
  • Informatics, infectious diseases, epidemiology, microbiology, health policy
  • Cost-effectiveness of alternative targeting strategies for health communication; the impact of differential insurance types and status on use of antibiotics
  • Economics, informatics, health services, statistics, infectious diseases
  • Duration and impact of carriage of resistant gram-negative bacteria in patients after hospital discharge
  • Hospital and molecular epidemiology, microbiology, social scientists

  1. Ovretveit J, Bate P, Cleary P, et al. Quality collaboratives: lessons from research. Qual Saf Health Care. 2002;11(4):345-351.
  2. Bain P, Mann L, Pirola-Merlo A. The innovation imperative: the relationships between team climate, innovation, and performance in research and development teams. Small Group Research. 2001;32(1):55-73.
  3. Peirce A, Cook S, Larson EL. Focusing research priorities in schools of nursing. J Prof Nursing. 2004;20(3):156-159.
  4. Sung NS, Crowley WF, Jr., Genel M, et al. Central challenges facing the national clinical research enterprise. JAMA. 2003;289(10):1278-1287.

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