Barriers and opportunities in the translation of mobile phone and social media interventions between research and health promotion practice in Australia: a qualitative study of expert perspectives
BACKGROUND:Newer technologies, such as smartphones and social networking sites, offer new opportunities for health promotion interventions. There is evidence to show that these technologies can be effectively and acceptably used for health promotion activities. However, most interventions produced in research do not end up benefitting non-research populations, while the majority of technology-facilitated interventions which are available outside of research settings are either undocumented or have limited or no evidence to support any benefit. We therefore aimed to explore the perspectives of researchers and health promotion experts on efforts to translate technology-facilitated prevention initiatives into practice, and the barriers to achieving translation. METHODS:We utilised a qualitative study design, involving in-depth interviews with researchers experienced with technology-facilitated prevention interventions and prominent health promotion experts. RESULTS:Some barriers mirror the findings of other studies into health promotion practice, which have found that competing priorities, resource limitations and organisational capacity are important in determining use of evidence in programme planning, engagement in translation and evaluation practice. We add to this literature by describing barriers that are more specifically related to technology-facilitated prevention, such as the pace of developments in technology, and how this clashes with the time taken to develop and ready evidence for translation. CONCLUSIONS:In order to maximise the vast potential of technology-facilitated prevention interventions to promote population health, it is essential that translation is at the forefront of consideration for both researchers and practitioners. We suggest actions that can be taken by both researchers and practitioners to improve translation of technology-facilitated prevention interventions, and also highlight how funding schemes can be modified to facilitate translation.