Background: The Seniors Health Research Transfer Network (SHRTN) Collaborative is a network of networks that work together to improve the health and health care of Ontario seniors. The collaborative facilitates knowledge exchange through a library service, knowledge brokers (KBs), local implementation teams, collaborative technology, and, most importantly, Communities of Practice (CoPs) whose members work together to identify innovations, translate evidence, and help implement changes.This project aims to increase our understanding of knowledge-to-action (KTA) processes mobilized through SHRTN CoPs that are working to improve the health of Ontario seniors. For this research, KTA refers to the movement of research and experience-based knowledge between social contexts, and the use of that knowledge to improve practice. We will examine the KTA processes themselves, as well as the role of human agents within those processes. The conceptual framework we have adopted to inform our research is the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) framework.
Methods/design: This study will use a multiple case study design (minimum of nine cases over three years) to investigate how SHRTN CoPs work and pursue knowledge exchange in different situations. Each case will yield a unique narrative, framed around the three PARIHS dimensions: evidence, context, and facilitation. Together, the cases will shed light on how SHRTN CoPs approach their knowledge exchange initiatives, and how they respond to challenges and achieve their objectives. Data will be collected using interviews, document analysis, and ethnographic observation.
Discussion: This research will generate new knowledge about the defining characteristics of CoPs operating in the health system, on leadership roles in CoPs, and on the nature of interaction processes, relationships, and knowledge exchange mechanisms. Our work will yield a better understanding of the factors that contribute to the success or failure of KTA initiatives, and create a better understanding of how local caregiving contexts interact with specific initiatives. Our participatory design will allow stakeholders to influence the practical usefulness of our findings and contribute to improved health services delivery for seniors.