Survey results highlight KT needs

16 May 2012

Producers and users of health research evidence in BC have a strong interest in enhancing their knowledge translation (KT) skills, according to the findings of an MSFHR online needs assessment.

The survey, distributed in March to stakeholders throughout the BC health research community, was undertaken as part of MSFHR’s commitment to increasing the use of health research evidence in practice and policy. More than 1,200 respondents provided input on their current KT activities and interests in KT skills training and resources.

Initial results of the survey, summarized in a new report, find a majority of respondents identify KT as very important to their work, placing particular emphasis on dissemination and application of evidence. Training workshops, such as the popular Scientist Knowledge Translation Training™ (SKTT) courses, are seen as valuable resources that help develop KT skills for researchers and the users of research evidence. Specific KT skills of interest to respondents include understanding how health decisions are made, working with decision makers, and communicating in plain language.

While respondents expressed broad interest in KT training, the survey results suggest training workshops alone are not sufficient to increase the use of research evidence in practice and policy making – obstacles to practicing KT for users of research and researchers must also be addressed. Several barriers to workshop participation were identified, including travel cost, location, multi-day commitment, and registration fees.

A much smaller number cited lack of commitment from employers as an obstacle to KT. Organizational support of KT training and resources was generally reported to be relevant and of high quality, though not sufficient for both researchers and users. Other obstacles to KT identified in the survey include lack of time, competing priorities, and insufficient KT funding.

Based on the feedback received, MSFHR will work with our partners to identify barriers to KT and design programs and resources that help overcome these obstacles.

“As a health research funder, MSFHR has a role to play in narrowing the gap between what is known to improve health and what is done to improve health,” says Gayle Scarrow, MSFHR knowledge translation manager. “By working closely with both producers and users of health research evidence, we are well-placed to facilitate the development of programs that create the conditions for effective KT.”

MSFHR’s KT team recently published a paper in the journal Implementation Science discussing the role of health research funders in translating evidence into practice. The paper describes how MSFHR is defining our KT role and outlines a conceptual model of five functional areas in which funding organizations can support KT: advancing KT science, building KT capacity, managing KT projects, funding KT activities, and advocating for KT.

Since its publication on April 24, the paper has been accessed nearly 3,000 times and is the most-read Implementation Science paper within the last 30 days, indicating significant interest in this topic.