This week sees the launch of the Knowledge Translation Exchange Blog , a welcome addition to the digital discourse on knowledge translation and health. The KT arena, a space that often gets filled with voices trying to push something akin to some aggressive form of dissemination with a fancier name, can really use some of what the Research into Action group at the University of Texas School of Public Health is doing and discussing. It’s about integrating knowledge translation into the very fabric of what we do in the health sciences, public health and clinical practice.
KT is not just an add-on, but something that requires integration into the planning, learning, evaluation and dissemination of knowledge. Surprisingly, this is a hard concept for a lot of people to grasp (or perhaps just a hard concept to apply in practice given how few people actually do it). It is not, as some might suggest, dissemination dressed up. It is about considering knowledge in context and framing potential audiences for that knowledge at the outset, defining research questions that align with the needs of the user, and creating capacity within research environments to develop proposals and do the research necessary to fit with these needs.
This past weekend I was reminded how basic this is to most people OUTSIDE of the health sector, and yet how foreign it is to the health system. I was visiting family and friends and, as often happens in such settings, people ask what I do. In conversation about building bridges between diverse actors the reaction typically is not one of surprise or novelty, but more like “of course”. What captures people’s attention is my work in using eHealth tools like iPhones and social media as the mechanism. While those things are of interest to my professional colleagues, the fact that bridges are being built is what draws the most attention. That’s telling.
Best wishes to the KTExchange team on their new blog and for a field where doing KT may one day not be seen as novel, but an integral part of what we do in the the health sector.