KT at a Glance

What is knowledge translation?

Many definitions exist. While we have adopted the term and definition of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, we also use the lay definition “using health research to improve health” to describe our knowledge translation activities. This refers to a broad range of initiatives meant to improve the use of research evidence in practice, including:

  • synthesis: integrating study findings into the larger body of knowledge on a topic
  • dissemination: identifying appropriate audiences and tailoring messages to the audience
  • exchange: interaction between researchers and research users resulting in mutual learning
  • application: the iterative process by which knowledge is put into practice

Why is knowledge translation important?

Health research evidence does not automatically translate into policy and action. Studies have shown only 14 percent of health research findings enter day-to-day practice, with a gap of 17 to 20 years separating discovery and implementation. The consequences include sub-optimal or unnecessary care, overuse or premature adoption of certain treatments, and new research that may not address priorities.

Knowledge translation plays an important role in maximizing the impact of health research. The benefits include:

  • health care decisions based on the best available evidence
  • cost-effective and accountable health care
  • identifying priorities and opportunities for further research