Knowledge Translation Curriculum

An Introduction.

The three Modules within this KT Curriculum serve as an in-depth introduction to knowledge translation (KT). Taken together, this Curriculum is a comprehensive – if unavoidably incomplete – overview of the key concepts, conflicts and methods in KT.

To access the Curriculum:

  1. The full Curriculum with all three Modules <Knowledge Translation Curriculum – full – Oct 2012.pdf>

  2. Module One: An Introduction to Knowledge Translation <Knowledge Translation Curriculum – Module 1 – Oct 2012.pdf> <literature>

  3. Module Two: Situation Analysis <Knowledge Translation Curriculum – Module 2 – Oct 2012.pdf> <literature>

  4. Module Three: Priority Setting <Knowledge Translation Curriculum – Module 3 – Oct 2012.pdf> <literature>

  5. Curriculum Presentations

  6. Curriculum Foreword by Dr. Vic Neufeld, the CCGHR’s National Coordinator

  7. Curriculum Table of Contents

  8. Curriculum Acknowledgements

  9. Video Resources

KT is about much more than simply influencing policy and practice: to do this well, we must also influence research. Though health researchers may be tempted to rely on traditional strategies of disseminating their work in the hopes of influencing policy, and though policy-makers may want to keep policy development behind closed doors, KT challenges both to change their approach. It demands collaboration, and in return, KT promises results – findings, policies, practices – that are supported, comprehensive and sustainable. This is by no means a straightforward or simple task, and there is much we still need to know about how particular KT strategies work, for whom, and under what circumstances. However, this integrated model of KT is its promising present, and indisputably its future.

The Curriculum is intended for a global audience of students and instructors. While it draws in many instances on evidence and experience in the health sector of low– and middle-income settings, its focus is by no means restricted to this context. KT is a universal concept and phenomenon; there is no health system on the planet that displays flawless KT technique. No matter our geography, there is a great deal we can all share and learn as we work within the world’s many research and policy communities.

Each Module within this Curriculum is broken into a number of lessons that can be taught individually, as a whole, or combined with other material. Each Lesson aspires to be a complete “lesson out of a box” that can be taught as-is. Each begins with a suggested reading list (with pdfs for all articles), which leads into a lecture of prominent ideas, a review of the major literature, diagrams and graphics, and quotations of particular relevance. There are, however, very few real-world examples illustrating a particular tool or approach. These can be found in the literature – this Curriculum is intended to discuss relatively generic and theoretical approaches that can be adapted to particular issues or problems; we have left the case studies or real-world examples to the available literature. Each Lesson can underpin group instruction or serve as the basis for self-guided distance learning. All Modules feature presentations that may be customized according to need and audience.

Module One: An Introduction to Knowledge Translation details the central currents in KT. Lesson One includes particular attention to the traditional research and policy processes to see the potential for reforming each; it then explains the differences between KT for clinical change and KT for public health, and concludes with an overview of the major approaches in KT, including end-of-grant KT, integrated KT and KT research. Lesson Two goes back to first principles: what is the knowledge that KT hopes to translate? This includes a look at the types and layers of knowledge, how knowledge changes as it moves among stakeholders, and the hierarchy of evidence. Lesson Three examines the barriers and facilitators to creating evidence-informed policy and policy-informed research, while also discussing scenarios where the research conflicts with political values (issue polarization). Lesson Four focuses on the three major sets of activities within KT: brokering, synthesis and dissemination. We discuss in particular: the KT Platform, the Rapid Response Service, the policy brief/dialogue model, and then provide an overview of the major dissemination tools available to researchers, asking of each: how might this tool be improved to actually influence key research stakeholders?

Module Two: Situation Analysis examines the context surrounding research, policy and social change. This is a critical act for any research project, policy or KT strategy, yet one that is ill-explained in the peer-reviewed literature. Lesson One outlines a process issue fundamental to situation analyses and to KT more broadly: deliberation. Only an open, balanced and representative group of stakeholders can arrive at an open, balanced and representative analysis of the prevailing situation. Lesson Two discusses stakeholder analysis and offers a range of different practical tools groups might use to identify and analyze stakeholders, their power and interests, and the dynamics that exist among them. Lesson Three compliments this by focusing on political context analysis, which looks at how previous related policies have been formulated, implemented and evaluated, what opportunities exist to influence policy, the foundational factors shaping policies and interventions, and the external factors also playing a strong role in everything from policy development to evaluation.

Module Three: Priority Setting frames priority setting as where KT ultimately begins. In bringing together different stakeholders to identify, weigh and rank a society’s knowledge needs, priority setting guides investments in health research. Lesson One discusses the broad theory of priority setting and details the two major types of priority-setting processes – priority setting for service delivery (used by institutions to choose among interventions) and priority setting for research (used by research and policy communities to weigh and rank a society’s knowledge needs to choose among health research options). Lesson Two turns to concrete tools for performing an ideal, interpretive priority setting process, then concluding with a discussion of several other prominent approaches.

There are many other worthy topics within KT that deserve their own Modules. It is hoped that future Modules of this Curriculum will address additional worthy topics such as: Designing KT Strategies, Monitoring and Evaluation of KT, Methods in KT Research, and KT for Practitioners and Planners. Moreover, given technological advances, it is also hoped that future Modules will embrace multi-media, with embedded video interviews or narrated animations explaining key concepts. Ultimately, these three are a beginning – an incomplete yet rigorous beginning – to teaching core KT principles. As KT methods continue to emerge and evolve, equal parts art and science, so too will its instruction: just as we have a great deal to learn in KT, so too must we understand how best to teach it.

Sandy Campbell

October 19, 2012

for the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research