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Rapid, responsive, relevant (R3) research: a call for a rapid learning health research enterprise

William T Riley1*, Russell E Glasgow1, Lynn Etheredge2 and Amy P Abernethy3

Author Affiliations

1 National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA

2 George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

3 Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA

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Clinical and Translational Medicine 2013, 2:10  doi:10.1186/2001-1326-2-10

Published: 10 May 2013


Our current health research enterprise is painstakingly slow and cumbersome, and its results seldom translate into practice. The slow pace of health research contributes to findings that are less relevant and potentially even obsolete. To produce more rapid, responsive, and relevant research, we propose approaches that increase relevance via greater stakeholder involvement, speed research via innovative designs, streamline review processes, and create and/or better leverage research infrastructure. Broad stakeholder input integrated throughout the research process can both increase relevance and facilitate study procedures. More flexible and rapid research designs should be considered before defaulting to the traditional two-arm randomized controlled trial (RCT), but even traditional RCTs can be designed for more rapid findings. Review processes for grant applications, IRB protocols, and manuscript submissions can be better streamlined to minimize delays. Research infrastructures such as rapid learning systems and other health information technologies can be leveraged to rapidly evaluate new and existing treatments, and alleviate the extensive recruitment delays common in traditional research. These and other approaches are feasible but require a culture shift among the research community to value not only methodological rigor, but also the pace and relevance of research.

Research methods; Rapid learning; Research review; Stakeholder engagement; Rapid research; Research relevance; Dissemination and implementation