Knowledge translation: closing the evidence-to-practice gap

Ann Emerg Med. 2007 Mar;49(3):355-63. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2006.08.022. Epub 2006 Nov 3.


Knowledge translation describes any activity or process that facilitates the transfer of high-quality evidence from research into effective changes in health policy, clinical practice, or products. This increasingly important discipline attempts to conceptually combine elements of research, education, quality improvement, and electronic systems development to create a seamless linkage between interventions that improve patient care and their routine implementation in daily clinical practice. We outline the gap between research and practice and present a case study of an emergency medicine example of validated evidence that has failed to achieve widespread implementation. The authors describe a model of organization of evidence and its relationship with the process that links research from the scientific endeavor to changes in practice that affect patient outcomes. Obstacles to evidence uptake are explored, as well as the limitations of current educational strategies. Innovative strategies in realms such as computerized decision support systems designed to enhance evidence uptake are also described. The potential interface between knowledge translation and continuous quality improvement, as well as the role for bedside tools, is also presented. Research in knowledge translation includes studies that attempt to quantify and understand the discrepancies between what is known and what is done, as well as those that examine the impact and acceptability of interventions designed to narrow or close these gaps. Sentinel examples in this line of research conducted in the emergency department setting are described.