Background: It is widely acknowledged that health policy and management decisions rarely reflect research evidence. Therefore, it is important to determine how to improve evidence-informed decision-making. The primary aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the effectiveness of research implementation strategies for promoting evidence-informed policy and management decisions in healthcare. The secondary aim of the review was to describe factors perceived to be associated with effective strategies and the inter-relationship between these factors. Methods: An electronic search was developed to identify studies published between January 01, 2000, and February 02, 2016. This was supplemented by checking the reference list of included articles, systematic reviews, and hand-searching publication lists from prominent authors. Two reviewers independently screened studies for inclusion, assessed methodological quality, and extracted data. Results: After duplicate removal, the search strategy identified 3830 titles. Following title and abstract screening, 96 full-text articles were reviewed, of which 19 studies (21 articles) met all inclusion criteria. Three studies were included in the narrative synthesis, finding policy briefs including expert opinion might affect intended actions, and intentions persisting to actions for public health policy in developing nations. Workshops, ongoing technical assistance, and distribution of instructional digital materials may improve knowledge and skills around evidence-informed decision-making in US public health departments. Tailored, targeted messages were more effective in increasing public health policies and programs in Canadian public health departments compared to messages and a knowledge broker. Sixteen studies (18 articles) were included in the thematic synthesis, leading to a conceptualisation of inter-relating factors perceived to be associated with effective research implementation strategies. A unidirectional, hierarchal flow was described from (1) establishing an imperative for practice change, (2) building trust between implementation stakeholders and (3) developing a shared vision, to (4) actioning change mechanisms. This was underpinned by the (5) employment of effective communication strategies and (6) provision of resources to support change. Conclusions: Evidence is developing to support the use of research implementation strategies for promoting evidence-informed policy and management decisions in healthcare. The design of future implementation strategies should be based on the inter-relating factors perceived to be associated with effective strategies. Trial registration: This systematic review was registered with Prospero (record number: 42016032947).
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