27 Jul 2021

Under the theme, 'Supporting the pandemic response? Implementation science in the time of Covid-19', the conference showcased implementation research that has directly informed the Covid-19 pandemic response as well as work that has supported long-term changes in practice or public health policy. The conference featured five plenary lectures from a diverse panel of leading international researchers and practitioners, 49 oral and poster presentations, nine meet-the-experts sessions, panel discussions, and Q&As.

Barbara Gray at Implementation Science research conference

Delegates came from 15 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, UK and USA, and included applied researchers, health and social care professionals, policymakers, and service user researchers.

The conference was organised by the Centre for Implementation Science at King’s College London and was supported by the UK Implementation SocietyKing’s Health Partners, BMC and the journal Frontiers in Health Services

The five plenary lectures explored not only how implementation science has helped the pandemic response, but also how it could do things differently, and what lessons can we learn. The five plenaries were delivered by:

  • Barbara Gray, CEO Urban Dandelion CIC, Health Inequalities Advisor to Lewisham Mayor and Council, who examined whether loyalty to implementation fidelity comes at the expense of diverse communities and groups within society
  • Professor Trish Greenhalgh, professor of primary care health sciences, University of Oxford, who examined how uncertainty, urgency and threat (Boin et al) have shaped and constrained the response of implementation science to the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Professor Susan Michie, professor of health psychology, and director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at UCL, who explored whether there was a gap in the science informing the UK’s Covid-19 response, drawing on her experience on SAGE and Independent SAGE
  • Associate professor Rohina Joshi, a Scientia fellow in the Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney, who explored the delivery of primary health services in low- and middle-income countries during Covid-19, drawing on examples from India, Mexico and South Africa
  • Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, who discussed inequalities in health in relation to race and ethnicity, and how these can be addressed.

Across the conference, there were 49 oral and poster presentations, covering theories and frameworks, stakeholder engagement and co-production, and global health. The abstracts presented will be published by BMC in a special supplement of Implementation Science.


The conference brought together people from around the world to explore the role of implementation science during the pandemic. The discussions opened up challenging and important questions around the relationship between science, policymaking and service delivery, and how to better address wider inequalities in health through closer working with communities affected by changes in care and services, both locally and globally.

Professor Nick Sevdalis

Professor Nick Sevdalis, co-chair of the conference’s scientific committee

At the close of the conference, there were four prizes awarded for the best oral and poster presentations, in association with Frontiers in Health Services. They were: 

  • Oral presentation runner up: Ray McGrath for ‘Supporting the physical health of people admitted to mental health wards during the Covid-19 pandemic: Prospective implementation evaluation of two novel service developments’ (watch the video)
  • Oral presentation winner: Dawn Schroeder for ‘Integrating a process theory and a determinant framework to understand how contextual factors, cognitive work and social processes interact to drive implementation: Methodological insights’(watch the video)
  • Best poster runner up: Anusha Ramani-Chander for ‘The impact of Covid-19 on NCD-related scale up project implementation: Lessons from real-world case studies’ (watch the video)
  • Best poster winner: Wei Qi Koh for ‘What are the barriers and facilitators affecting the implementation of social robots for older adults and people with dementia? A scoping review’ (watch the video).

Implementation Science Masterclass 2021

The Conference formed part of a programme of online events related to implementation science organised by the Centre for Implementation Science at King’s College London in 2021.  

In June and early July 2021, the Implementation Science Masterclass 2021 – now in its seventh year – was held over three consecutive Thursdays, attracting 72 delegates from eight countries. It included lectures from world-renowned experts, small group workshops, and advice clinics to help health and social care professionals, researchers, patients and service users to work more effectively on their own implementation projects.