Fostering knowledge exchange between researchers and decision-makers: exploring the effectiveness of a mixed-methods approach

Health Policy. 2008 Apr;86(1):53-63. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2007.09.002. Epub 2007 Nov 1.


Objectives: Knowledge exchange is thought to enhance research utilization by decision-makers but there is little guidance on appropriate methods. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a research planning exercise utilizing technical (ranking, rating) and interpretive strategies (interdisciplinary workshop deliberation).

Methods: Participants were surveyed to establish research priorities and professional roles. Observation was used to examine actual contribution and outcomes. Semi-structured interviews with participants elicited perceived outcomes, commitment, contribution and learning. Survey data was reported with summary statistics. Transcripts were analyzed qualitatively.

Results: Stakeholders were satisfied with the overall process, gaps in research were prioritized, and research questions were proposed, but anticipated intermediate or lateral outcomes were not achieved. Identifying differing perspectives and establishing relationships were unanticipated outcomes. Barriers included group dynamics, lack of clarity on objectives and processes, and minimal experience or interest in interpretive activities.

Conclusions: A conceptual framework for evaluating factors influencing knowledge exchange outcomes had not been previously investigated. Strategies for overcoming identified barriers include better facilitation, involving a critical volume of non-clinicians, in-person sharing of background information, and incentives for decision-makers. Further research is required to examine the effectiveness of different forms of knowledge exchange, and the degree to which they are currently being practiced.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Data Collection
  • Decision Making*
  • Disclosure*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Research Personnel*