Development of a knowledge translation platform for ataxia: Impact on readers and volunteer contributors
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BACKGROUND: Dissemination of accurate health research information to patients and families has become increasingly important with the rise of the internet as a means of finding health information. However, the public faces several barriers to accessing research information, including paywalls and technical jargon. One method to bridge this gap between patients, families, and research is using lay summaries. SCAsource is an online knowledge translation platform where peer-reviewed research papers on ataxia are translated into lay summaries. This online platform was launched in September 2018, with the goal of making ataxia research more accessible and understandable to patients and families. A secondary goal is to provide opportunities for ataxia researchers to develop and hone their knowledge translation skills, altogether improving the quality of patient communication in the ataxia community. AIM: The aim of this study was to measure the impact of SCAsource on its readers and volunteer contributors after one year of activity. This is to ensure SCAsource is meeting its goals of (1) improving access and understanding of ataxia research to lay audiences, and (2) improving knowledge translation skills of volunteer contributors. METHODS: Two online surveys were launched, one for readers and one for volunteers. Each survey had a combination of multiple-choice, Likert-scale type, and open-ended short-answer questions. Descriptive quantitative analysis was used for respondent characteristics and Likert-type data. A grounded theory coding approach was used to analyze narrative feedback data. RESULTS: We found that SCAsource has mutually beneficial outcomes for both lay person readers and volunteer contributors. Readers have an increased understanding of ataxia research and access to up-to-date information on recent publications. Volunteers develop knowledge translation skills and have increased confidence in communicating results to lay audiences. Areas of improvement were identified to be incorporated into the platform. CONCLUSION: We demonstrated that SCAsource improves access to information and understanding of research to lay audiences, while providing opportunities for researchers to develop knowledge translation skills. This framework can potentially be used by other rare disease organizations to launch and evaluate their own knowledge translation websites.
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