To understand how replacement of decision-makers (DMs) serving as principal investigators (PI) or co-PIs on research teams may affect the feasibility and value of embedded implementation research (EIR) used to improve health policies, programs, and services in Latin America and the Caribbean.
This was a descriptive qualitative study based on 39 semistructured interviews with 13 embedded research teams selected by financing agencies to explore team composition, interaction among members, and research results. Interviews were conducted at three points during the study period from September 2018 to November 2019; data were analyzed from 2020 to 2021.
Research teams were found to be operating in one of three situations: (i) permanent core team (no change) with either active DM or inactive DM participation; (ii) replacement of DM–PI or co-PI that did not affect EIR research; and (iii) replacement of DM–PI that affected EIR.
To ensure EIR continuity and stability, research teams should include high-level DMs together with more technical staff performing essential implementation activities. This structure could improve collaboration among professional researchers and ensure greater embeddedness of EIR to strengthen the health system.