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The role of scientific evidence in decisions to adopt complex innovations in cancer care settings: a multiple case study in Nova Scotia, Canada

Posted by Dr. Robert Abraham * Dr. Andrew Ross on February 12, 2019 in Interventional, Nuclear Medicine
Scientific evidence
Scientific evidence

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Health care delivery and outcomes can be improved by using innovations (i.e., new ideas, technologies, and practices) supported by scientific evidence. However, scientific evidence may not be the foremost factor in adoption decisions and is rarely sufficient. The objective of this study was to examine the role of scientific evidence in decisions to adopt complex innovations in cancer care.


Using an explanatory, multiple case study design, we examined the adoption of complex innovations in five purposively sampled cases in Nova Scotia, Canada. Data were collected via documents and key informant interviews. Data analysis involved an in-depth analysis of each case, followed by a cross-case analysis to develop theoretically informed, generalizable knowledge on the role of scientific evidence in innovation adoption that may be applied to similar settings and contexts.


The analyses identified key concepts alongside important caveats and considerations. Key concepts were (1) scientific evidence underpinned the adoption process, (2) evidence from multiple sources informed decision-making, (3) decision-makers considered three key issues when making decisions, and (4) champions were essential to eventual adoption. Caveats and considerations related to the presence of urgent problems and short-term financial pressures and minimizing risk.


The findings revealed the different types of issues decision-makers consider while making these decisions and why different sources of evidence are needed in these processes. Future research should examine how different types of evidence are legitimized and why some types are prioritized over others.


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