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Abstract

This article is number three in the series From the Frontier: Translating Research to Practice. The narrative describes the work of a practice-academic network in Minnesota which explored the degree to which having a culture of quality at the local health department level influenced the capacity to implement a new statewide initiative. The network conducted a mixed-methods study of grantees funded to develop and implement local policy, systems, and environmental change strategies to promote nutrition, increase activity, and reduce tobacco use and exposure. The results of their study indicated that grantees with higher performance levels in Quality Improvement (QI) were much more likely to exceed expectations in local initiatives compared to grantees with lower levels of “QI maturity”. The study results are being used at the local level to advocate for authority to bolster QI and at the state level to establish baseline capacity of new grantees in order to customize technical assistance. This provides further evidence that systems-level research is possible in such practice-academic networks, and that findings from such research are immediately translatable.