The knowledge translation challenge

It’s nearly 4 years ago that I first presented Physiopedia’s role in the knowledge translation process and a few things recently have got me thinking about this again.

To advance physiotherapy practice we must utilise new knowledge that researchers are bringing us.  But with the plethora of research that is published it is impossible to make sense of what might have an impact on our practice and patient outcomes.  Sometimes the research comes to publication too late, sometimes we can’t afford to access it, often the evidence is conflicting and most of the time there is just too much to read.  The process needs to be simplified and made meaningful to the clinician to promote practice changing behaviour.  This is where many knowledge translation initiatives have emerged and online resources are leading the way.

A recent article in Physical Therapy discussed best practice recommendations for the development, implementation, and evaluation of online knowledge translation resources in rehabilitation. In it the authors propose four recommendations: (1) develop evidence-based, user-centered content; (2) tailor content to online format; (3) evaluate impact; and (4) share results and disseminate knowledge.  We come in right at the end, disseminating knowledge. But how do we do this?

At the IFOMPT conference in Quebec I talked about and demonstrated how Physiopedia had a role in ‘making knowledge available’ as part of the knowledge translation process.  Basically, through Physiopedia, we had an innovative method of delivering new research in a meaningful way to the user, the clinician. Simply produce an evidence based page on Physiopedia that collates all the available evidence on a particular topic and puts it into a format that weeds out the chaff, highlights the clinical implications and makes sense to the clinician so that they can apply that knowledge to practice. Simply translating the knowledge.

We also work directly with researchers and research groups to disseminate their work and promote clinician behaviour change.  Our most simple activity is sharing new evidence in our monthly email updates.  Although it is a contribution this isn’t the best way to get research into practice so we also try to make the dissemination process much more meaningful to the clinician.  Through video interviews we talk to researchers about their work focusing on clinical implications of their work and how the clinician can apply that in practice.  In our courses we bring together published research, specific book content and expert opinion, and deliver it in a way that makes sense to the clinician, that promotes application to practice and that is meaningful and accessible to anyone.

In addition to this we work with knowledge brokers. Knowledge brokering is a strategy to support collaborations and partnerships within and across clinical, research, and policy worlds to improve the generation and use of research knowledge.  In their recent article (and video abstract below) Alison Hoens and Stephanie Glegg describe knowledge brokering and it’s contribution to facilitating the use of evidence.  We could be defined as a knowledge broker but we think of knowledge brokers as the people that perform steps 1,2 and 3 above and we assist them in step 4 with the dissemination of their work.  Examples of this include the decision making aids that we have published in Physiopedia.

My key thought about knowledge translation at this point in time (there will be more!) – make it meaningful.  There’s no point in simply sharing the evidence if we don’t make it mean something to the practising clinician.  Do the leg work for them, wrap it up in a toolkit or a course, encourage the application to practice and the evaluation of outcomes.  Now there’s another hot topic of the moment….

If you’d like to find out more about how we at Physiopedia can work with researchers to promote the translation of your evidence into practice take a read of this guide that we have created.  If you’d like to collaborate with us please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

And if you don’t do anything else you MUST read Roger Kerry’s plea to Physiotherapists / Physical Therapists the World over – Evidence-Based Physiotherapy: A Crisis in Movement