The use of knowledge brokers (KBs) has been recommended as a mechanism to facilitate the use of research evidence in clinical practice. However, little has been written regarding the practical implementation of the KB role.
This article (1) describes the brokering activities of 24 pediatric physical therapist KBs (in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, Canada), and (2) reports KBs' perceptions of the utility of their role and their experiences with the brokering process.
A mixed-methods research design was used in this investigation, which was part of a larger knowledge translation (KT) study that demonstrated the effectiveness of using KBs to implement a group of evidence-based measurement tools into practice.
The KBs completed weekly activity logs, which were summarized and described. Semi-structured telephone interviews with KBs were analyzed qualitatively to provide insight into their perceptions of their role and the brokering process. Major interview themes were identified and verified through member checking.
Brokering activities varied considerably as KBs adapted to meet the needs of their colleagues. The KBs indicated that they highly valued the connection to the research community and spoke of the enthusiastic engagement of their physical therapist colleagues (and others in their organization) in the brokering process. They discussed the importance of understanding the practice context and organizational factors that could affect knowledge transfer. The KBs spoke of the need to dedicate time for the role and had a strong sense of the supports needed to implement a KB role in future.
Considerable variation in brokering activities was demonstrated across KB participants. The KBs perceived their role as useful and indicated that organizational commitment is crucial to the success of this KT strategy.