Promoting Knowledge Transfer to Clinical Practice
Clinical research continually leads to new discoveries that can contribute to effective, efficient health care and improved population health. Despite the considerable resources spent on this research, relatively little attention is paid to ensuring that such discoveries are actually implemented in routine clinical practice. Consequently, the potential benefits of clinical research to the health care industry and to a population's health are often delayed or unrealized.
For many years, researchers believed that the best way to disseminate their findings and see them turned into practical use was through publications read by their target audience. Although this has met with some success, the results are far from stellar. Implementation researchers (scientists studying methods to promote the transfer and uptake of health knowledge) now recognize that many factors in clinical practice environments may act as barriers to translating knowledge into practical application. In order to successfully plan implementation activities, researchers need tools that help to identify the potential barriers that may influence behaviour or hinder change in different clinical settings.
This is the challenge Dr. Jeremy M. Grimshaw is undertaking as Canada Research Chair in Health Knowledge Transfer and Uptake. He is studying factors that influence the behaviour of health care professionals, and methods to help them use health knowledge more effectively. His primary objectives are: to build a comprehensive evidence base that aids national, provincial and local decisions about how best to use resources to improve knowledge transfer and uptake; and to develop practical tools that can be used to identify both barriers and facilitators to implementation, and to monitor performance.
Several groups have conducted implementation research, but few specialize in this area. Dr. Grimshaw is integrating his work with other related research within the university, and expanding national and international collaborations with researchers and decision makers to create a dedicated multidisciplinary team comprising the commitment and skills necessary to lead worldwide implementation research.