Research drives innovation through knowledge translation

Sharon MickanThe University of Development in Santiago Chile is challenging traditional ways of teaching health professionals about research methods. To complement learning skills of identifying and appraising published research to answer clinically inspired questions, students are being challenged to look further, to the processes of translating research knowledge for clinical benefit. Groups of healthcare professionals are working with innovation engineers and biomedical researchers to plan and deliver this new part time postgraduate programme.

In May2014, before this programme started, the course tutors met with Dr Sharon Mickan, from the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, to review the latest research and teaching strategies for translating research knowledge. Over 2 full days, tutors swapped their usual roles, to sit in the classroom and participate in interactive seminars.  Sharon engaged and aligned the group around a model of knowledge translation supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Tutors in the group were quick to realise the importance of using high quality and synthesised research knowledge to identify gaps between what the research evidence recommends should be done and what is actually happening in clinical practice. It was not long before they were discussing ways to adapt this research knowedge to local contexts, to assess barriers for knowledge use and to select and adapt suitable interventions.  After two days, the group finalised their implementation and evaluation plans for their academic programme and identified important strategies to monitor students’ learning.

Before returning to Oxford, Sharon delivered a public lecture titled “Translational Research – how to improve the impact in society with the knowledge developed in universities”. She illustrated ways in which patient and user led questions could drive communication and collaboration for innovative benefits, across the continuum of research from T1 through T2 and T3.  This talk was widely attended by research leaders and students throughout the Medical Faculty. The crucial role of research evidence was highlighted as the key for translating knowledge for patient and practice improvement.

Several weeks later, Sharon delivered the first lecture to the new postgraduate students remotely. She described the importance of knowledge translation, and introduced the Knowledge to Action model, for the tutors to role model and apply with students, over the next few months. This was an example of the dynamic and iterative nature of the learning about translating knowledge for clinical innovation.

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