The use of research in practice and policy: Knowledge translation in public health pedagogies

Year: 2017

Author: Lee, Jessica, Williams, Benjamin

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There is growing pressure to ensure that decision makers in public health pedagogies are engaging in 'evidence-based' practice. Indeed, the national Health Department's statement of purpose is to shape and lead Australia's health system through evidence-based policy. Exactly what counts as evidence and how it is utilised in public health pedagogies however, is poorly understood. The authors' own research has identified that stakeholders involved with creating and implementing Queensland's Healthier.Happier. campaign relied on in-house epidemiological evidence and other government documents with a distinct lack of attention to published peer-reviewed research. While some literature exists on the barriers to the use of research evidence in public health, there is a lack of focus on interventions designed to increase knowledge translation in this context. As such, the purpose of this presentation is first, to investigate the extent of of public health engagement with knowledge translation, and second, to explore what knowledge translation interventions are described in the literature in public health and more broadly, and what we know about their effectiveness. Findings within the literature suggest that the known barriers to research evidence uptake in public health are varied and include access to databases, confidence and skills of decision makers, lack of time and resources due to organisational culture and structures, and political influence. Despite this, current interventions tend to focus on individual behaviour change among decision makers such as increasing access to research which does not overcome more entrenched and restricting organisational barriers. As such, to date, knowledge translation interventions for public health decision makers have demonstrated limited effectiveness. Thus, there is a distinct need for further intervention research examining the effectiveness of knowledge translation strategies for public health decision making. We intend that the findings from this comprehensive literature review will inform the next step of our project in working alongside policy decision makers to address the known barriers to research evidence uptake and to identify strategies that are effective in improving the degree to which research evidence is accessed, assessed, adapted, and applied by decision makers in public health pedagogies. It is envisaged that a multi-strategy knowledge translation capacity building intervention will result.