Identifying the conditions needed for integrated knowledge translation (IKT) in health care organizations: qualitative interviews with researchers and research users

BMC Health Serv Res. 2016 Jul 12;16:256. doi: 10.1186/s12913-016-1533-0.


Background: Collaboration among researchers and research users, or integrated knowledge translation (IKT), enhances the relevance and uptake of evidence into policy and practice. However, it is not widely practiced and, even when well-resourced, desired impacts may not be achieved. Given that large-scale investment is not the norm, further research is needed to identify how IKT can be optimized.

Methods: Interviews were conducted with researchers and research users (clinicians, managers) in a health care delivery (HCDO) and health care monitoring (HCMO) organization that differed in size and infrastructure, and were IKT-naïve. Basic qualitative description was used. Participants were asked about IKT activities and challenges, and recommendations for optimizing IKT. Data were analysed inductively using constant comparative technique.

Results: Forty-three interviews were conducted (28 HCDO, 15 HCMO) with 13 researchers, 8 clinicians, and 22 managers. Little to no IKT took place. Participants articulated similar challenges and recommendations revealing that a considerable number of changes were needed at the organizational, professional and individual levels. Given the IKT-absent state of participating organizations, this research identified a core set of conditions which must be addressed to prepare an environment conducive to IKT. These conditions were compiled into a framework by which organizations can plan for, or evaluate their capacity for IKT.

Conclusions: The IKT capacity framework is relevant for organizations in which there is no current IKT activity. Use of the IKT framework may result in more organizations that are ready to initiate and establish IKT, perhaps ultimately leading to more, and higher-quality collaboration for health system innovation. Further research is needed to confirm these findings in other organizations not yet resourced for, or undertaking IKT, and to explore the resource implications and mechanisms for establishing the conditions identified here as essential to preparing for IKT.

Keywords: Collaboration; Health services research; Implementation science; Integrated knowledge translation; Qualitative research.

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Group Practice
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Qualitative Research
  • Research Personnel
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / organization & administration*

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