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IPAC News: In Conversation with Cathy Egan


Building capacity in implementation science

What factors are key to helping a team successfully integrate implementation science into its everyday activities?

Cathy Egan: Several factors are key to successfully integrating implementation science into an organization’s activities. In the case of the Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) team, we want to use implementation science as the basis for our work as we help health care stakeholders adopt IPAC best practices. To achieve that goal, we will need to continue working together in the enthusiastic way we have done for years. We will also need to continue to learn together as we adopt new and more effective ways of working. We will need a good dose of intellectual curiosity as we delve into the world of implementation science and knowledge translation. And, we will need to remember that this process is a journey; we will have to give ourselves permission to make mistakes, because mistakes are an important part of learning.

From a leader’s perspective, how do you determine whether an intervention has been successful? 

Cathy Egan: To measure success, it is important to compare the outcome with the intended results. When we think about moving knowledge to action as it relates to IPAC best practices in health care settings, increased compliance with routine practices/additional precautions and decreased health care–associated infections are measures of success. In the past, however, we have found it challenging to quantify the IPAC team’s successes. As we adopt more deliberate strategies to support implementation at the local and institutional levels, we will be in a better position to evaluate the impact of our efforts.

How do you plan to build knowledge translation and implementation science capacity across the IPAC teams?

Cathy Egan: We have been lucky to find organizations with a record of achievement and experience in implementation science who have been eager to assist us on our journey. St. Michael’s Hospital’s Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have both shared their lived experiences with implementation science, and they continue to work with us as we define our own path. Most recently, we had the pleasure of spending two days with CAMH staff; they led us through a workshop introducing us to tools and strategies we can use to coach IPAC professionals through their implementation plans and facilitate changes that can have a real and sustained impact in improving IPAC practice in Ontario.


Cathy Egan, Director, IPAC, Public Health Ontario
Cathy Egan leads a provincial team of infection prevention and control (IPAC) experts who develop tools and resources to advance IPAC practice in health care settings across Ontario. Her team includes those who support PIDAC committees and provide IPAC resources, including the Just Clean Your Hands program, Core Competencies, the Infection Control Resource Teams, and the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program. 

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