JOURNAL ARTICLE

How funding agencies can support research use in healthcare: an online province-wide survey to determine knowledge translation training needs

Bev J Holmes, Megan Schellenberg, Kara Schell, Gayle Scarrow
Implementation Science: IS 2014, 9: 71
24906229

BACKGROUND: Health research funding agencies are increasingly promoting evidence use in health practice and policy. Building on work suggesting how agencies can support such knowledge translation (KT), this paper discusses an online survey to assess KT training needs of researchers and research users as part of a Canadian provincial capacity-building effort.

METHODS: The survey comprised 24 multiple choice and open-ended questions including demographics, interest in learning KT skills, likelihood of participating in training, and barriers and facilitators to doing KT at work. More than 1,200 people completed the survey. The high number of responses is attributed to an engagement strategy involving partner organizations (health authorities, research institutes, universities) in survey development and distribution. SPSS was used to analyze quantitative results according to respondents' primary role, geographic region, and work setting. Qualitative results were analyzed in NVivo.

RESULTS: Over 85 percent of respondents are interested in learning more about the top KT skills identified. Research producers have higher interest in disseminating research results; research users are more interested in the application of research results. About one-half of respondents require beginner-level training in KT skills; one-quarter need advanced training. Time and cost constraints are the biggest barriers to participating in KT training. More than one-half of respondents have no financial support for travel and almost one-half lack support for registration fees. Time is the biggest challenge to integrating KT into work.

CONCLUSIONS: Online surveys are useful for determining knowledge translation training needs of researchers, research users and ultimately organizations. In this case, findings suggest the importance of considering all aspects of KT in training opportunities, while taking into account different stakeholder interests. Funders can play a role in developing new training opportunities as part of a broad effort, with partners, to build capacity for the use of health research evidence. Survey results would ideally be complemented with an objective needs assessment based on core competencies, and should be acted on in a way that acknowledges the complexity of knowledge translation in healthcare, existing training activities, and the expertise stakeholders already have but may not refer to as knowledge translation.

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