Grounding implementation science in health equity for cancer prevention and control

Prajakta Adsul, David Chambers, Heather M. Brandt, Maria E. Fernandez, Shoba Ramanadhan, Essie Torres, Jennifer Leeman, Barbara Baquero, Linda Fleischer, Cam Escoffery, Karen Emmons, Montserrat Soler, April Oh, Ariella R. Korn, Stephanie Wheeler, Rachel C. Shelton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: The past decade of research has seen theoretical and methodological advances in both implementation science and health equity research, opening a window of opportunity for facilitating and accelerating cross-disciplinary exchanges across these fields that have largely operated in siloes. In 2019 and 2020, the National Cancer Institute’s Consortium for Cancer Implementation Science convened an action group focused on ‘health equity and context’ to identify opportunities to advance implementation science. In this paper, we present a narrative review and synthesis of the relevant literature at the intersection of health equity and implementation science, highlight identified opportunities (i.e., public goods) by the action group for advancing implementation science in cancer prevention and control, and integrate the two by providing key recommendations for future directions. Discussion: In the review and synthesis of the literature, we highlight recent advances in implementation science, relevant to promoting health equity (e.g., theories/models/frameworks, adaptations, implementation strategies, study designs, implementation determinants, and outcomes). We acknowledge the contributions from the broader field of health equity research and discuss opportunities for integration and synergy with implementation science, which include (1) articulating an explicit focus on health equity for conducting and reviewing implementation science; (2) promoting an explicit focus on health equity in the theories, models, and frameworks guiding implementation science; and (3) identifying methods for understanding and documenting influences on the context of implementation that incorporate a focus on equity. Summary: To advance the science of implementation with a focus on health equity, we reflect on the essential groundwork needed to promote bi-directional learning between the fields of implementation science and health equity research and recommend (1) building capacity among researchers and research institutions for health equity-focused and community-engaged implementation science; (2) incorporating health equity considerations across all key implementation focus areas (e.g., adaptations, implementation strategies, study design, determinants, and outcomes); and (3) continuing a focus on transdisciplinary opportunities in health equity research and implementation science. We believe that these recommendations can help advance implementation science by incorporating an explicit focus on health equity in the context of cancer prevention and control and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number56
JournalImplementation Science Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer prevention and control
  • Dissemination
  • Health disparities
  • Health equity
  • Implementation science


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