It is estimated that it takes an average of
17 years for research to be translated into clinical practice. Furthermore, clinical practice is not always delivered in line with scientific evidence. These and other gaps between knowledge and ‘action’ – whether behaviour change, practice change, or policy, has inspired BCMHSUS to invest in building capacity for knowledge translation and exchange, or KTE.
“Knowledge translation and exchange is a set of principles and practices that help us to communicate and share knowledge in ways that are meaningful and help to maximize impact.” - Deborah Ross, Provincial Director of Strategic Initiatives, BCMHSUS.
“We intentionally use the term knowledge rather than evidence because knowledge captures what we learn from a broad range of sources – research and other kinds of systematic inquiry, clinical expertise, and the wisdom of lived experience," said Ross. "It is also important to recognize that we all have a part to play in this process.”
Across BCMHSUS, knowledge is discovered and shared every day. The new
Knowledge Translation and Exchange Framework
is intended to build capacity across the organization to better understand the principles and practices of knowledge translation and exchange so they can be more effectively applied to care.
“The purpose of this framework is to raise awareness of what people are already doing and to demystify it,” said Miriah Hodgins, the knowledge exchange lead at BCMHSUS.
“Until you see a concept put into practice with tangible examples, it is hard to understand it. This framework unpacks four key functions of KTE—fostering partnerships, generating, synthesizing and sharing knowledge; building capacity; applying tools—and provides examples of each in action.”
There are already many examples of knowledge translation and exchange at BCMHSUS. One initiative helping care providers understand and apply research in their practice is the
. Teams made up of care providers and people with lived/living experience have the opportunity to develop and complete a practice-based, patient-oriented research project that is relevant to the work they do and the people they serve.
“Care providers and people with lived/living experience have unique insights about how health services, policies and care experiences can be improved,” said Hodgins. “They do not, however, always have the capacity, time, or resources to engage in research. The Research Challenge helps to address that.”
Participants get the opportunity to go through the complete cycle of moving research into action. Teams consist of at least two care providers and one patient or family partner. They are supported by educational workshops, research mentorship, and a $5,000 grant to develop and undertake a research study, share the results of their work, and apply evidence in their practice.
Another example of KTE in action is the
, a group of seven leading non-profit agencies working in partnership with BCMHSUS since 2003. Each non-profit has its own specific area of expertise and distinct purpose, but the needs of the populations they serve often overlap. The BC Partners advance their collective potential and impact by working together to activate knowledge for healthier individuals, families, and communities across BC. A core platform by which they do this is
More and more, grant agencies and organizations providing funding for research require applicants to share knowledge translation and exchange plans during the application process. Thanks to the new KTE framework, researchers will be better equipped to include these plans in grant applications to increase their potential for funding, thereby building capacity for the discovery of new knowledge to improve care for mental health and substance use populations.
“There is no doubt that knowledge translation and exchange makes a difference in the care we are able to provide to clients,” said Hodgins. “What’s really important is that it places value on multiple voices and the voices we need to hear from. Moving forward, my hope is that BCMHSUS becomes a leader in KTE and in meaningful engagement with people with lived and living experience in the province.”
“We have so many examples of KTE from which to build at BCMHSUS, from our clinical learning rounds, to our Patient and Family Experience Council, to our recently launched Provincial Mental Health and Substance Use Network," said Ross. "The network provides us with a unique opportunity for a provincial KTE mechanism to ensure that provincial system-level improvements are driven by the experience and perspectives of people with lived and living experience, as well as informed by research evidence and data.”
KTE is a cyclical process, which can be broken down as follows:
- Knowledge—this encompasses all information gathered not only through scientific research, but also lived and living experience, professional practice, and through any other reliable sources.
- Translation—this describes how the knowledge is made understandable for different audiences.
- Exchange—this is the process of turning knowledge into meaningful action by informing either practice or policy. It also represents the process of practice informing research and knowledge, thus creating a cycle.