What is the evidence on knowledge translation strategies?
Individual studies should not generally be used in knowledge translation efforts aimed at the public, policy makers or health professionals.
This is one recommendation from a new paper by international leaders in the field of knowledge translation, from Canada, the UK and Australia, titled Knowledge translation of research findings, and published by the journal, Implementation Science.
The authors argue that individual studies are not generally appropriate as the unit for knowledge translation because they rarely provide sufficient evidence for practice and policy changes by themselves, and indeed may be misleading due to bias in their conduct or random variations in their findings.
Instead, the authors suggest that the results of individual studies need to be interpreted within the context of global evidence before deciding whether they are ready for knowledge translation. They say that “the basic unit of knowledge translation should be up-to-date systematic reviews or other syntheses of the global evidence”.
As well, they say: “Greater emphasis on the results of systematic reviews would increase the ‘signal to noise’ of knowledge translation activities and may increase the likelihood of their success.”
You can read more about the article below, in the latest update from the Primary Health Care Research and Information Service (PHC RIS).
Horses for courses – select (evidence-based) knowledge translation strategies for your audience
Dr Christina Hagger writes:
Why are some innovations adopted and successfully implemented through a culture while others are ignored?
This fundamental premise of knowledge translation has engaged researchers since the work of French sociologist Gabriel Tarde at the beginning of the 20th century.
It is still a very relevant question in health care today where, despite the millions, indeed billions, of dollars spent globally on health research, training and professional development, there is still an inability to consistently translate the findings into improving policy or practice.
As one example, a USA study by McGlynn and colleagues observed that patients in the USA received only 55%, just over half, of recommended care. Similar findings have been reported across primary as well as specialist care, in both developed and developing settings.
In addition to such limited use of recommended treatments, there is evidence that some 20% to 30% of patients may receive care that is not needed or care that could potentially be harmful.
The implications of this evidence-practice/ policy gap means that patients not only fail to benefit from research based advances in health care but there is also a large financial opportunity cost for health care systems.
In their recent paper, Jeremy Grimshaw and colleagues summarise the current concepts and the evidence base to guide knowledge translation of T2 activities (the translation of new clinical knowledge into improved health).
The article is structured around five key concepts developed by Lavis and colleagues as a guide for researchers and others engaged in knowledge translation activities:
- What should be transferred?
- To whom should research knowledge be transferred?
- By whom should research knowledge be transferred?
- How should research knowledge be transferred?
- With what effect should research knowledge be transferred?
The focus of this paper is directed towards the substantial evidence base supporting the effectiveness of knowledge translation strategies targeting health care professionals and consumers.
Nonetheless, the particular complexities of knowledge translation confronting policy makers are noted. A range of knowledge exchange strategies, including policy networks, the SUPPORT tools developed by Lavis and his team, knowledge brokers as well as the power of informal networks are discussed.
We operate in an environment where evidence influenced policy and practice is the gold standard to improve our current health care systems.
This paper gives the current evidence base to support evidence-based implementation.
• Dr Christina Hagger, Research Fellow, Primary Health Care Research & Information Service (PHC RIS)
Grimshaw JM, Eccles MP, Lavis JN, Hill SJ, Squires JE, 2012, Knowledge translation of research findings, Implementation Science, 7:50.
This article, which can be accessed at http://www.implementationscience.com/content/7/1/50http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2296/13/12/abstract, features in the 21 June 2012 edition of PHC RIS eBulletin, available at http://www.phcris.org.au/publications/ebulletin/index.php.
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