Translating knowledge into Practice

KIA project page imagesResearch findings need to be translated into information that is meaningful for clinicians, managers, policy makers, patients and their families. There is a need to exchange and transform knowledge between those producing and using it. Not only do clinicians need to be able to understand and apply the research evidence, but organisations need suitable leadership structures and a culture to value research. Successful knowledge translation is therefore an interactive and reciprocal process that requires consideration of the nature of the research evidence, the clinical context and methods to change practice.

There is an inherent challenge in building the evidence for how to do this. Most research evidence is focused on particular clinical scenarios or problems. Often we know what is effective, but not specifically how or why an intervention works. The more complex interventions become, such as encouraging patients to monitor their own blood pressure, warfarin or blood glucose levels, the more difficult it is to know which parts of the intervention work best. We recognise that knowledge is a complex concept, and that often research and clinical practice priorities may be quite different.

We also recognise that while research evidence IS required, on its own it is not enough to force a change in practice. We know that every situation is slightly different. Therefore it is important to identify barriers to knowledge use and to engage with key stakeholders to plan ways to improve how the research evidence is used in practice. It is complex and sounds chaotic, but we know that some things work better in certain places and at specific times. This field of knowledge translation is about trying to understand the drivers, facilitators and barriers for individual clinicians and patients to change. This also requires an understanding of how organisations and health policymakers support and influence change.

A significant challenge for clinicians is to be able to access and interpret recent high quality research to inform their practice. Education is an important tool, which needs to be incorporated into daily clinical activities, so that clinicians can identify and tailor specific evidence-based practices they can adhere to. Technology offers opportunities to make synthesised evidence-based information accessible at the point of care.

Tilson, J.K. and Mickan, S. Promoting Physical Therapists’ use of research evidence to inform clinical practice: I Theoretical foundation, evidence and description of the PEAK Program, BMC Medical Education. 2014, 14: 125 doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-14-125

Tilson, J.K., Mickan, S., Sum, J.C., Zibell, M., Dylla, J. & Howard, R. Promoting Physical Therapists’ use of research evidence to inform clinical practice: part 2- a Mixed Methods Evaluation of the PEAK Program, BMC Medical Education.  2014, 14:126 doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-14-126

Associated media 

What is KT?
Using research in clinical practice
Translating knowledge for practice…myth or reality
What knowledge is being translated?
The power of knowledge
Does research knowledge change clinical practice?
Knowledge brokers – a solution for knowledge translation?
Knowledge translation insights from management

MSc Module “Knowledge into Action”
KIA presentations on CEBM 



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