Impact of an organization-wide knowledge translation strategy to support evidence-informed public health decision making
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BACKGROUND: The public health sector is moving toward adopting evidence-informed decision making into practice, but effort is still required to effectively develop capacity and promote contextual factors that advance and sustain it. This paper describes the impact of an organization-wide knowledge translation intervention delivered by knowledge brokers on evidence-informed decision making knowledge, skills and behaviour. METHODS: A case study design was implemented with the intervention and data collection tailored to the unique needs of each case (health department). A knowledge broker provided training workshops and mentored small groups through a seven step process of evidence-informed decision making. The intervention was delivered over 22 months; data related to evidence-informed decision making knowledge, skills and behaviour were collected at baseline and follow-up. Mixed effects regression models were developed to assess the impact of involvement in the intervention on the evidence-informed decision making outcomes. RESULTS: Data from a total of 606 health department staff were collected during baseline: 207 (33%) staff from Case A, 304 (28%) from Case B, and 95 (47%) from Case C. There were a total of 804 participants at follow-up: 258 (42%) from Case A, 391 from Case B (37%), and 155 (50%) from Case C. Statistically significant increases in knowledge and skills were observed overall, and in all three health departments. An increase in evidence-informed decision making behaviour was observed among those intensively involved in the intervention from all cases (statistically significant in Case A). The organizational characteristics of strategic priority, leadership, readiness, and choice of staff emerged as important factors in the change process. CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge brokering is a promising organizational knowledge translation intervention to support evidence-informed decision making. The intervention appeared to have the greatest impact on those who became actively engaged with the knowledge broker in the intervention. Active participation in face-to-face training activities with a knowledge broker, focused specifically on evidence-informed decision making skill development, led to the greatest impact on associated behaviours, knowledge, and skills. Several organizational factors emerged as integral to success of the knowledge translation intervention.
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