New horizons in the implementation and research of comprehensive geriatric assessment: knowing, doing and the 'know-do' gap

Age Ageing. 2016 Mar;45(2):194-200. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afw012.


In this paper, we outline the relationship between the need to put existing applied health research knowledge into practice (the 'know-do gap') and the need to improve the evidence base (the 'know gap') with respect to the healthcare process used for older people with frailty known as comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA). We explore the reasons for the know-do gap and the principles of how these barriers to implementation might be overcome. We explore how these principles should affect the conduct of applied health research to close the know gap. We propose that impaired flow of knowledge is an important contributory factor in the failure to implement evidence-based practice in CGA; this could be addressed through specific knowledge mobilisation techniques. We describe that implementation failures are also produced by an inadequate evidence base that requires the co-production of research, addressing not only effectiveness but also the feasibility and acceptability of new services, the educational needs of practitioners, the organisational requirements of services, and the contribution made by policy. Only by tackling these issues in concert and appropriate proportion, will the know and know-do gaps for CGA be closed.

Keywords: geriatric assessment; health services research; homes for the aged; older people; organisational models; translational medical research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Clinical Competence
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / organization & administration*
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / standards
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Geriatrics / organization & administration*
  • Geriatrics / standards
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Research / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Research / standards
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Models, Organizational*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Professional Practice Gaps / organization & administration*
  • Professional Practice Gaps / standards
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / organization & administration*
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / standards