Background: The importance of effective translation of health research findings into action has been well recognized, but there is evidence to suggest that the practice of knowledge translation (KT) among health researchers is still evolving. Compared to research user stakeholders, researchers (knowledge producers) have been under-studied in this context. The goals of this study were to understand the experiences of health researchers in practicing KT in Manitoba, Canada, and identify their support needs to sustain and increase their participation in KT.
Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted with 26 researchers studying in biomedical; clinical; health systems and services; and social, cultural, environmental and population health research. Interview questions were open-ended and probed participants' understanding of KT, their experiences in practicing KT, barriers and facilitators to practicing KT, and their needs for KT practice support.
Results: KT was broadly conceptualized across participants. Participants described a range of KT practice experiences, most of which related to dissemination. Participants also expressed a number of negative emotions associated with the practice of KT. Many individual, logistical, and systemic or organizational barriers to practicing KT were identified, which included a lack of institutional support for KT in both academic and non-academic systems. Participants described the presence of good relationships with stakeholders as a critical facilitator for practicing KT. The most commonly identified needs for supporting KT practice were access to education and training, and access to resources to increase awareness and promotion of KT. While there were few major variations in response trends across most areas of health research, the responses of biomedical researchers suggested a unique KT context, reflected by distinct conceptualizations of KT (such as commercialization as a core component), experiences (including frustration and lack of support), and barriers to practicing KT (for example, intellectual property concerns).
Conclusions: The major findings of this study were the continued variations in conceptualization of KT, and persisting support needs that span basic individual to comprehensive systemic change. Expanding the study to additional regions of Canada will present opportunities to compare and contrast the state of KT practice and its influencing factors.
Keywords: Exchange; Health research; Implementation science; Knowledge mobilization; Qualitative analysis; Semi-structured interviews; Transfer.