About the Embedded Research project

The Embedded Research project aims to increase the influence of health services research on decisions about the improvement and redesign of NHS services.

Managers and clinicians in the NHS are under growing pressure to improve and redesign services in a way that both optimises health outcomes and controls costs. The research community has great potential to contribute to this process but there is a challenging disconnect between the theory and empirical evidence underpinning how best to design and deliver high quality health services, and what happens in practice. 

The Embedded Programme was a two-and-a-half-year multi-method study (2018-2020) funded by the Health Services and Delivery Research Programme of the National Institute for Health Research. Its aim was to improve the impact of healthcare research.

 Our multi-method study aimed to increase the influence of health services research in two main ways.

  • First, developing the evidence base underpinning the nature and effectiveness of models of knowledge mobilisation, specifically where researchers operate (or are ‘embedded’) within NHS service settings and evidence is created in partnership (or is ‘co-produced’) by researchers, practitioners and people who use services. 
  • Second, developing practical guidance on the design and implementation of embedded models of knowledge co-production for managers and clinicians in the NHS, its academic partners and people who use health services.

The project involved the wider research community through a series of events.
How the NHS will benefit
The NHS, patients and service users will gain the following benefits from this project:

  • NHS and partner organisations were using embedded knowledge co-production approaches will be able to use our guidance and other resources that we produced to optimise the effectiveness of their work and its impact on patient care.
  • NHS organisations that have not yet considered embedded co-production will be better able to explore how they could use this approach to improve decisions that affect service delivery, and will be given the tools to enable them to do so rapidly.

We want the Embedded Research project to have a lasting impact on the influence of health services research.

To enable this, we have produced:

  • guidance for NHS organisations who want to use an embedded researcher to help them to improve their services
  • guidance for researchers who want to pursue a career as an embedded researcher
  • guidance about how best to involve members of the public in embedded researcher initiatives
  • a job description for an embedded researcher and a description of the attitudes, skills and knowledge required to be effective
  • a series of case studies to explain how the embedded role works.