Phrases referring to knowledge translation (KT) usually combine two words; the first describes knowledge, research, evidence or information, and the second usually refers to the process of sharing, translating, utilising, implementing or integrating. Sometimes I wonder if we really have the most aesthetic combination – is KT better than research utilisation or knowledge dissemination, or should we just use the most descriptive knowledge to action?
As often happens, traditions are bound in culture and geography. The term knowledge translation was adopted in Canada because translation of research is embedded in the mandate of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the federal agency for health research funding. UK and American research bodies have emphasised the need for research to be disseminated. In the UK, the Health Foundation is promoting Improvement Science, yet the leading open access journal in this area is titled Implementation Science. I have not completed the detailed scoping review to evaluate subtle differences and similarities. At first glance, it seems that they are all referring to this same body of knowledge, which has been best defined by the Canadians as ” a dynamic and iterative process that includes synthesis, dissemination, exchange and ethically sound application of knowledge to improve health, provide more effective health services and products and strengthen the health care system”
These word combinations also carry a hidden assumption about the process of putting research into action. I suggest that most people assume that the first word (knowledge, evidence, information) is shared in an interactive way with the appropriate clinician/s so that it changes individual practice and ultimately health care policy! It is a big assumption.
It is time to test out this assumption, set out the steps or processes of doing this. Or is it already clear within the definition? I would love to create some debate here…