Knowledge Translation - what is it and what are we doing about it?

Knowledge Translation - what is it and what are we doingLaura Ball about it?


The value of evidence-based practice (EBP) is now recognized by most organizations, policy-makers and funders. However, with studies showing that 30-40% of patients receive treatments that are not in line with current scientific evidence, and 20-25% of patients receive unnecessary or harmful treatments (see Eccles, et al., 2005), the move towards EBPs has highlighted both a public health concern and a significant gap in the research literature.

While considerable investment has been made in finding effective assessments, treatments, and interventions, very little attention has been paid to how those findings should be moved into practice. The Auditor General of Ontario recently highlighted this gap in her report stating mental health hospitals in Ontario have no common space to disseminate their best practices and new research.

In order to bridge this “know-do” gap, we need to first be able to get the knowledge to the people who need it in a way they can understand. This process is called knowledge translation (KT). It involves asking: who is the audience, how do we reach that audience, what information do we need them to hear and how can the messaging be tailored so they can understand it?

The next step in the process is to help them put the new knowledge to use in practice. This process is called implementation science (IS). It involves asking: what practices need to change, who needs to change their practice, what barriers need to be addressed, what interventions can be put in place to minimize or eliminate barriers and enhance facilitation, and how will we measure the change in behaviour?

At Waypoint, I hold the unique role as the Knowledge Translation and Implementation Coordinator in the Research and Academics Division. I tackle the “know-do” gap by engaging in new research and increasing access to best practices by hosting educational and training events.

One of these events – the Waypoint Research Institute Conference – is aimed at addressing the gap highlighted in the Auditor General of Ontario’s report. The theme of this annual conference is Implementing Evidence-Based Practices in Mental Health and Addictions, and gives mental health organizations a place to share their research and best practices. Last year’s event was a resounding success, with over 50 presentations, and nearly 150 attendees! We hope this year’s event will be a success as well. Mark your calendars for May 16-17, 2017 and watch for more details!