January 12, 2019
Did you know?
It takes an estimated 17 years for research to reach clinicians and an estimated 30 years for it to reach the general population. Additionally, it has been estimated that 30% to 35% of patients are not receiving care according to scientific evidence and that 20% to 25% of the care provided is not needed or potentially harmful. At the same time, there are problems with premature adoption of some treatments before they have been shown to be beneficial.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Overall, research knowledge is underutilized by practitioners and policy makers in all sectors. This means that patients or the general public are denied treatments or “campaigns” or programs of proven benefit because the time it takes for research and experience to become incorporated into practice and policy is unacceptably long.
So how are we supposed to address this “gap”?
… With Knowledge Mobilization
What is Knowledge Mobilization?
You may be asking yourself “what is knowledge mobilization?”. Or perhaps you already know but need some clarity on what it is.
Knowledge Mobilization is an umbrella term encompassing a wide range of activities relating to the production and use of research results, including knowledge synthesis, dissemination, transfer, exchange, and co-creation or co-production by researchers and knowledge users. Regardless of the term you use, Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) can be thought of as an information exchange process aimed at getting science “off the shelf or bench and into the hands of the people who need it” in the most effective format possible. The primary purpose of KMb is to address the gap between what is known from research and knowledge synthesis and implementation of this knowledge by key stakeholders with the intention of improving outcomes. At the same time, KMb is used to describe the process of getting knowledge used by stakeholders. Together, KMb covers the bidirectional process from both sides, with both researchers and end users working together to make an impact.
But What Do I Call It?
With the increasing interest in KMb, there is also great confusion. Contributing to the confusion is the use of multiple terms to describe all or part of the KMb process. Anywhere from 29 to 46 different terms have been used to describe KMb research and the process of KMb. Some of the more common terms are knowledge mobilization, knowledge translation, knowledge transfer, knowledge exchange, research utilization, implementation, dissemination, and diffusion. Compared to 2006, a Google search of these terms in 2017 generates anywhere from 7 times more hits to 650 times more hits. Although there is widespread agreement about the importance of transferring knowledge into action, it is evident that consolidation and consistent use of fewer terms related to KT research is needed.
Where Did It Start?
The roots of KMb can be traced back to the field of agriculture and medicine. In medicine, the term became more commonly used in the context of implementation of best evidence in the health sector and was more recognized and studied in this context in the late 1990s. Healthcare organizations were focusing heavily on evidence-based medicine that moved the healthcare field towards sustained quality improvement research.
Why do KMb?
Most importantly, KMb attempts to bridge the gap between knowledge and its use. KMb can achieve many outcomes, but primarily it raises awareness and prompts change. It can draw attention to current research, create effective and sustainable change, induce cultural shifts, and improve client, patient, and participant outcomes. Where in the research process KMb is utilized depends on one’s goals; however, there are two main forms of KMb known as integrated KMb (iKMb) and end-of-grant or end of research KMb.
In iKMb, potential knowledge users, or individuals who are likely to be able to use research results to make informed decisions, are engaged throughout the research process. Knowledge users are seen as equal partners alongside researchers, which aims to create research that is more relevant to and more likely to be used by the knowledge users.
In contrast, end-of-grant KMb focuses primarily on sharing research results and implications after the research is complete with those who can use the information. It can involve more intensive dissemination activities that tailor the message to a specific audience. Activities for any form of KMb can include conference presentations, publications, web-based activities, educational materials/sessions, workshops, plain language summaries, conferences or events, networking, communities of practice, and more.
How to do KMb?
You may be interested in learning HOW to do KMb… And you may have other unanswered questions. How do you engage stakeholders? How do you share research? What activities and tools exist? When has KMb been successful and how do you evaluate its success?
The next post in this series will answer some of these questions! Be sure to subscribe to blog updates or check in frequently to learn more about KMb.
Want to learn more about KMb? Check out our YouTube playlist with helpful videos and resources!