Knowledge Utilization and Exchange
- LAST REVIEWED: 11 September 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2018
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0106
- LAST REVIEWED: 11 September 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 11 January 2018
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0106
Knowledge on population and public health relates to the social, cultural, economic, and environmental determinants of health and to policy and program interventions operating at multiple levels within and outside health. The nature of this knowledge extends well beyond behavioral interventions to include knowledge about the impacts of social-structural policy levers that influence health or health equity at a population level. This added complexity creates challenges for researchers and policymakers seeking to understand the processes of knowledge dissemination and utilization and to effectively integrate research with policy and practice. As applied to population and public health, there is, however, a relatively limited scholarship in comparison to the study of knowledge dissemination and utilization in individual clinical practice or on health-care policies and systems. While multiple reviews call for greater theoretical and methodological developments to understand the role of organization- and system-level influences on knowledge utilization, empirical research remains more focused on individual-level solutions to knowledge use. If we want to further maximize evidence-informed decision making in population and public health, studies need to further emphasize organizational and system-level barriers and enablers to change and consider ethical implications. Research on knowledge translation, which includes (but is not limited to) knowledge dissemination and utilization, comprises concepts, theories, models, frameworks, and more-applied work on tools, approaches, and “best practices” for disseminating and integrating knowledge with policy and practice. Since early calls for more coordinated and rigorous studies of knowledge utilization, the field of knowledge translation has steadily grown. Authors have mapped the intellectual structure of the field, including the most-influential concepts and authors that have shaped understanding of diffusion and knowledge utilization. The concepts outlined in this article demonstrate the shifting language of the field over time. This article is organized both according to publication format (e.g., journals, websites) and content areas (e.g., history, theories), and several publications could have been listed in more than one section. It is limited to only English sources, which therefore excludes some important scholarship in French and possibly other languages. Previous Oxford Bibliographies articles on related topics provide an overview of key definitions in this field, as do other articles featured in herein. While this field has experienced a burst in popularity and it has perhaps become somewhat crowded, this increase is commensurate with parallel movements toward evidence-informed decision making and increasing pressures on researchers and research funders to demonstrate the health, social, economic, and health-system returns on investment in health research and to evaluate the performance and impact of knowledge translation and exchange funding programs. The authors acknowledge the contribution of Alannah Brown, MPH student at the University of Edinburgh, for her assistance with references and formatting, and Kyle Jayasingam and Simrit Khabra, students at the University of Toronto, for their assistance with references included in the updated version. Sarah Viehbeck gratefully acknowledges the support received from the Population Health Improvement Research Network through an Emerging Researcher Award.
Beginning in the early 21st century, a number of overviews of relevance to knowledge translation and exchange, including dissemination and utilization, have been published. These include systematic reviews, which examine key issues, opportunities, and barriers to enhanced dissemination and use of research in policy and practice, commentaries and debates, and empirical studies. Though many are specific to the area of population and public health, Landry, et al. 2003 and Mitton, et al. 2007 go beyond to explore perceptions of health policymakers more generally, and Lavis, et al. 2003 underscores the role of research-funding agencies. Several, including Greenhalgh, et al. 2004; Walter, et al. 2005; Macoubrie and Harrison 2013; and Greenhalgh and Wieringa 2011 (cited under Debates), draw on interdisciplinary or multisectoral literatures and raise issues for further debate. The breadth and depth of articles reflect a growing field of study, and the syntheses underscore the value of bringing a range of disciplinary perspectives to bear to understand dissemination and knowledge utilization in a population and public health context. The selected citations are likely to be valuable for researchers and decision makers alike, as well as to students trying to understand the key issues and remaining research gaps in this field.
Greenhalgh, Trisha, Glenn Robert, Paul Bate, Olympia Kyriakidou, Fraser Macfarlane, and Richard Peacock. 2004. How to spread good ideas: A systematic review of the literature on diffusion, dissemination and sustainability of innovations in health service delivery and organisation. London: National Co-ordinating Centre for NHS Service Delivery and Organisation.
A conceptual model (i.e., attributes of innovation and intended adopters, agents of social influence, organizational/environmental characteristics, dissemination, implementation) is derived through this systematic review. Eleven research traditions are categorized on the basis of how the spread and sustainability of innovations are conceptualized. Suggests that future research should take a “whole systems” approach and focus on interactions between model components to understand how innovations arise.
Landry, Réjean, Moktar Lamari, and Nabil Amara. 2003. The extent and determinants of the utilization of university research in government agencies. Public Administration Review 63.2: 192–205.
Reports the findings of a survey with Canadian government officials (“users”) to determine the nature and extent of research use by government agencies. Some of the greatest predictors of use include the extent of adaptation of research products by researchers, the intensity of the relationship between researchers and users, and the role of organizational contextual factors, which are often out of the control of users.
Lavis, John N., Dave Robertson, Jennifer M. Woodside, Christopher B. McLeod, and Julia Abelson. 2003. How can research organizations more effectively transfer research knowledge to decision makers? Milbank Quarterly 81.2: 221–248.
Reports findings from a review of systematic reviews and interviews with applied-research organizations to examine conceptual knowledge translation (KT) issues related to the message, target audience, messenger, KT and communications infrastructure, and evaluation. Findings suggest that Canadian research organizations focus more on skill building for decision makers and less on impact evaluation.
Macoubrie, Jane, and Courtney Harrison. 2013. Human services research dissemination: What works? OPRE Report 2013–09. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services.
This interdisciplinary literature review is part of the efforts of the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, to understand and identify evidence for what works to effectively disseminate knowledge in the context of complex human services environments, including public health. Dissemination is characterized as an intentional communication process that should be accompanied with channels and tactics. The review concludes with seven solutions for improved dissemination of human services research.
Mitton, Craig, Carol E. Adair, Emily McKenzie, Scott B. Patten, and Brenda Waye Perry. 2007. Knowledge transfer and exchange: Review and synthesis of the literature. Milbank Quarterly 85.4: 729–768.
Synthesizes evidence on knowledge translation and exchange in health policy. While primarily focused on health care, findings appear relevant and transferable to public health. The authors identify facilitators and barriers at individual and organizational levels, with several related to communication, time, or timing of research relative to policy needs. The review also summarizes interactive strategies to support knowledge translation and exchange.
Salsberg, Jon, David Parry, Pierre Pluye, Soultana Macridis, Carol P. Herbert, and Ann C. Macaulay. 2015. Successful strategies to engage research partners for translating evidence into action in community health: A critical review. Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2015:191856.
Examines engagement strategies for participatory research to support knowledge creation and translation in the context of funders’ increasing expectations to do so. Developing advisory committees, establishing research agreements, facilitating engagement, hiring community researchers or partners, and ongoing communication were the most-successful engagement strategies. Findings are very practical in orientation and likely to be useful to researchers and community partners alike.
Walter, Isabel, Sandra Nutley, and Huw Davies. 2005. What works to promote evidence-based practice? A cross-sector review. Evidence & Policy 1.3: 335–363.
The authors present findings from a review of the effectiveness of strategies to promote evidence-based policy and practice. They outline effective interaction approaches based on strong collaborations across research and policy/practice. Barriers that may limit interactions include time and investment to build relationships and differences in cultures of research and practice/policy. They further suggest that informal approaches (i.e., networks) hold promise.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Access to Health Care
- Action Research
- Active Aging
- Active Living
- Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior in the United States
- Advocacy, Public Health
- Agricultural Safety and Public Health
- Air Quality: Health Effects
- Air Quality: Indoor Health Effects
- Alcohol Availability and Violence
- Alternative Research Designs
- Ambient Air Quality Standards and Guidelines
- American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
- Asthma in Children
- Attachment as a Health Determinant
- Behavior Change Theory in Health Education and Promotion
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
- Bicycling and Cycling Safety
- Birth and Death Registration
- Birth Cohort Studies
- Board of Health
- Built Environment and Health, The
- Business and Corporate Practices
- Cancer Communication Strategies in North America
- Cancer Prevention
- Cancer Screening
- Capacity Building
- Capacity Building for NCDs in LMICs
- Capacity-Building for Applied Public Health in LMIC: A US ...
- Cardiovascular Health and Disease
- Child Maltreatment
- Children, Air Pollution and
- Children, Injury Risk-Taking Behaviors in
- Children, Obesity in
- Citizen Advisory Boards
- Climate Change and Human Health
- Climate Change: Institutional Response
- Clinical Preventive Medicine
- Community Air Pollution
- Community Development
- Community Gardens
- Community Health Assessment
- Community Partnerships and Coalitions
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Complexity and Systems Theory
- Culture and Public Health
- Definition of Health
- Dental Public Health
- Design and Health
- Dietary Guidelines
- Ecological Approaches
- Enabling Factors
- Environmental Laws
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Ethics of Public Health
- Evidence-Based Public Health Practice
- Family Planning Services and Birth Control
- Food Safety
- Food Security and Food Banks
- Food Systems
- Frail Elderly
- Functional Literacy
- Genomics, Public Health
- Geographic Information Systems
- Geography and Health
- Global Health
- Global Health Diplomacy
- Global Health Promotion
- Guide to Community Preventive Services, The
- Health Administration
- Health Communication
- Health Disparities
- Health Education
- Health Impact Assessment
- Health in All Policies
- Health in All Policies in European Countries
- Health Literacy
- Health Literacy and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Health Measurement Scales
- Health Planning
- Health Promoting Hospitals
- Health Promotion
- Health Promotion Foundations
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Healthy People Initiative
- Hepatitis C
- High Risk Prevention Strategies
- Human Rights, Health and
- Immigrant Populations
- Immunization and Pneumococcal Infection
- Indigenous Peoples, Public Health and
- Indigenous Populations of North America, Australasia, and ...
- Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
- Internet Applications in Promoting Health Behavior
- Intersectoral Strategies in Low - Middle Income Countries ...
- Justice, Social
- Knowledge Translation and Exchange
- Knowledge Utilization and Exchange
- Law of Public Health in the United States
- Media Advocacy
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Promotion
- Migrant Health
- Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention
- Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
- National Association of Local Boards of Health
- National Public Health Institutions
- Needs Assessment
- Needs Assessments in International Disasters and Emergenci...
- Obesity Prevention
- Occupational Cancers
- Occupational Exposure to Benzene
- Occupational Exposure to Erionite
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Oral Health Equity for Minority Populations in the United ...
- Ottawa Charter
- Parenting and Work
- Parenting Skills and Capacity
- Participatory Action Research
- Patient Decision Making
- Pesticide Exposure and Pesticide Health Effects
- Physical Activity and Exercise
- Physical Activity Promotion
- Polio Eradication in Pakistan
- Population Aging
- Population Determinants of Unhealthy Foods and Beverages
- Population Health Objectives and Targets
- Precautionary Principle
- Prenatal Health
- Program Evaluation in American Health Education
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Public Health, History of
- Public Health Surveillance
- Public-Private Partnerships in Public Health Research and ...
- Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent and Manage Obesity ...
- Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment
- Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies
- Randomized Controlled Trials
- Real World Evaluation Strategies
- Reducing Obesity-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic an...
- Research Integrity in Public Health
- Resilient Health Systems
- Rural Health in the United States
- Safety, Patient
- School Health Programs in the Pacific Region
- Sex Education in HIV/AIDS Prevention
- Skin Cancer Prevention
- Smoking Cessation
- Social Determinants of Health
- Social Epidemiology
- Social Marketing
- Statistics in Public Health
- STI Networks, Patterns, and Control Strategies
- Systems in the United States, Public Health
- Systems Modeling and Big Data for Non-Communicable Disease...
- Systems Theory in Public Health
- Traditional, Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative M...
- Translation of Science to Practice and Policy
- Traumatic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Tuberculosis among Adults and the Determinants of Health
- Unintentional Injury Prevention
- Urban Health
- Vaccine Hesitancy
- Violence Prevention
- Water Quality
- Water Quality and Water-Related Disease
- Weight Management in US Occupational Settings
- Welfare States, Public Health and Health Inequalities
- Worksite Health Promotion
- World Health Organization (WHO)