Addicted to discovery

A new article in Addictive Behaviors suggests that some research may be focused on meeting the needs of the researcher and media rather than clinicians or patients:

I’d like to suggest that perhaps the scientific community may be addicted to discovery, with too little consideration of the consequences. Indeed, Stange and Phillips (2007) contend that the “[h]unger to produce and sell dramatic research results is created and fed by the laymedia and medical journals’ need for news, researcher career pressures and egos, funders’ eagerness to prove their value, and a public made hungry for the next big thing” (p. 98).

A lot of the research looks less like the researchers are trying to produce something dramatic than just get something else published.

The writer offers the US Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service as a potential model to improve the research, dissemination and implementation process:

The structure of the extension service is comprised of three discrete but highly interrelated components: academically-based agriculture researchers; county extension agents who work as change agents at the local level; and state extension specialists who link the researchers to the local county agents. Interestingly, the extension service is funded by federal, state, and county governments, a mixed funding model which coincidentally mirrors the tripartite streams of funding in the addiction prevention and treatment system.

Rogers (2003) identifies critical elements in the evolution of the extension service that have contributed to its success. Several of these elements speak directly to the inestimable value of collaborative relationships between producers and consumers of locally relevant research. First, the farmers (clients) participate fully in identifying their own local needs and communicate them to the county (and state level) agents. Next, the state agents work (and live) in close professional (and social) contact with the academically-based researchers, affording the opportunity to develop highly relevant research questions. Next, the research that the academics design and conduct is oriented to utilization right from the start. Finally, this utilization orientation is institutionalized — and valued — across the entire extension model structure.