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Improvement science is a partner in basic and clinical research
  1. Jaclyn N Kline,
  2. Asha S Payne
  1. Emergency Medicine, Children's National Hospital, Washington, DC, 20010
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jaclyn N Kline, Emergency Medicine, Children's National Hospital, Washington, DC 20010, USA; jnkline{at}


A breadth of time, effort, and resources are put into research. Improvement science is an applied science emphasizing rapid-cycle testing to learn about change and produce improvement. Its foundations lie in understanding your system, its parts and their relationships, and the psychology of change, yet the framework of improvement science is analogous to basic research. In basic research you first ask a question, then form a hypothesis based on background research. After testing this hypothesis, a researcher then draws conclusions and shares the results. In improvement science, researchers start the same, with asking a question, and then defining what is considered an improvement. Rapid-cycle tests of change are guided by subject matter experts and the people and processes involved. The data provided from these tests of change allow researchers to show improvement and share results. The success of improvement science is showcased through statistical process control charts, which inform when significant change has occurred. Improvement science can be applied across all fields of medicine; is a natural partner to basic and clinical research, as it plays a vital role in the implementation and adoption of the best evidence.

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  • Contributors This article was written exclusively by the 2 coauthors, JK and AP. The 2 authors collaborated on concept formation and planning of the paper, each drafted portions of the initial manuscript with collaboration and editing completed by both JK and AP. Both authors reviewed the final product prior to submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement There are no data in this work