Background: Knowledge exchange portals are emerging as web tools that can help facilitate knowledge management in public health. We conducted a review to better understand the nature of these portals and their contribution to knowledge management in public health, with the aim of informing future development of portals in this field.
Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted of the peer-reviewed and grey literature to identify articles that described the design, development or evaluation of Knowledge Exchange Portals KEPs in the public health field. The content of the articles was analysed, interpreted and synthesised in light of the objectives of the review.
Results: The systematic search yielded 2223 articles, of which fifteen were deemed eligible for review, including eight case studies, six evaluation studies and one commentary article. Knowledge exchange portals mainly included design features to support knowledge access and creation, but formative evaluation studies examining user needs suggested collaborative features supporting knowledge exchange would also be useful. Overall web usage statistics revealed increasing use of some of these portals over time; however difficulties remain in retaining users. There is some evidence to suggest that the use of a knowledge exchange portal in combination with tailored and targeted messaging can increase the use of evidence in policy and program decision making at the organisational level.
Conclusions: Knowledge exchange portals can be a platform for providing integrated access to relevant content and resources in one location, for sharing and distributing information and for bringing people together for knowledge exchange. However more performance evaluation studies are needed to determine how they can best support evidence-informed decision making in public health.