Knowledge translation and synthesis

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Knowledge translation is defined as:

"...the exchange, synthesis and ethically-sound application of research findings within a complex set of interactions among researchers and knowledge users. In other words, knowledge translation can be seen as an acceleration of the knowledge cycle; an acceleration of the natural transformation of knowledge into use.' Within the context of health research, KT therefore aims to ‘accelerate the capture of the benefits of research . . . through improved health, more effective services and products, and a strengthened health care system’..." - CIHR, 2004

The term knowledge translation is used in fields such as public health, medicine and rehabilitation (Brandt & Pope, 1997; CIHR, 2004; Davis et al., 2003; Glasgow, Lichtenstein, & Marcus, 2003; Jacobson, Butterill, & Goering, 2003; Tingus, Berland, Myklebust, & Sherwood, 2004). Knowledge translation is a relatively new concept that aims to address the knowledge to evidence-based gap in patient care. Sub-optimal usage of evidence is described as a knowledge gap between what we know and what is done in practice (Davis et al., 2003; Grol, 2000; Grol & Grimshaw, 2003).

Knowledge translation

  • Knowledge Translation Canada
  • Sharon E. Straus, Jacqueline Tetroe, Ian D. Graham "Knowledge to action: what it is and what it isn't", pp.3-9, Chapter 1.1 in: Knowledge translation in health care: moving from evidence to practice. Edited by S. Straus, J. Tetroe & I. Graham. Chichester: Wiley / Blackwell, 2009.

"Many terms are used to describe the process of putting knowledge into action [Graham ID et al]. In the United Kingdom and Europe, the terms implementation science and research utilization are commonly used in this context. In the United States, the terms dissemination and diffusion, research use, knowledge transfer, and uptake are often used. Canada commonly uses the terms knowledge transfer and exchange. In this book, we use the terms knowledge translation (KT) and knowledge to action interchangeably." p.3

"Some organizations may use the term knowledge translation synonymously with commercialization or technology transfer. However, this narrow view does not consider the various stakeholders involved or the actual process of using knowledge in decision making." p.4

  • Graham ID, Logan J, Harrison MB, Straus SE, Tetroe J, Caswell W, et al. Lost in knowledge translation: time for a map? J Contin Ed Health Prof 2006 Winter;26[1]:13–24.

“Knowledge brokering” is sometimes used – see CHSRF publications at (seems they use “knowledge exchange” and “knowledge translation” too) as is “knowledge utilization” – great site including database and very useful weekly current awareness bulletin available via the CHSRF/CIHR Chair on Knowledge Transfer and Innovation site ( at the Université Laval (Réjean Landry, Director). Terms like "bench to bedside" and "mouse to man" are also used in less formal settings. Also, "translational science/research/medicine" is used especially in the US although sometimes in talking about the application of basic science in clinical / applied research - see key article: Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "Translational and Clinical Science — Time for a New Vision". N Engl J Med 2005; 353:1621-1623 (October 13, 2005)

  • Renée Lyons, professor and Canada Research Chair, Atlantic Health Promotion Research Centre (AHPRC), Dalhousie University
This monograph grew out of a symposium on health and knowledge translation (KT) held at Green Templeton College, Oxford

Journals and websites

Knowledge Synthesis

Knowledge synthesis is the contextualization and integration of research findings into the larger corpus body of knowledge in a given discipline. A knowledge synthesis must be reproducible and transparent in its methods and use quantitative and/or qualitative methods. It can take the form of a systematic review and follow methods established by the Cochrane Collaboration; or, it can be developed as a result of a consensus conference, expert panel, qualitative or quantitative study. Realist syntheses, narrative syntheses, meta-analyses, meta-syntheses and practice guidelines are all forms of knowledge synthesis.

Accreditation Canada

Accreditation Canada is a not-for-profit, independent organization accredited by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua). It provides national and international health care organizations with an external peer review process to assess and improve the services provided to patients and clients based on standards of excellence. Accreditation Canada's programs and guidance have helped organizations promote quality health care for more than 50 years. see Knowledge exchange at Accreditation Canada


  • ABC of knowledge management -
  • Backer, T. E. (2000). The failure of success: Challenges of disseminating effective substance abuse prevention programs. Journal of Community Psychology, 28(3), 363-373.
  • Bennett G, Jessani N. The Knowledge translation toolkit: bridging the know-do gap: a resource for researchers. International Development Research Centre, 2011.
  • Brandt E., & Pope, A. M. (Eds.). (1997). Enabling America: Assessing the role of rehabilitation science and engineering. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • Caburnay C. A., Kreuter, M. W., & Donlin, M. J. (2001). Disseminating effective health promotion programs from prevention research to community organizations. Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, 7(2), 81-89.
  • CIHR. (2004). Knowledge translation strategy 2004—2009: Innovation in action. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
  • Davis, D., Evans, M., Jadad, A., Perrier, L., Rath, D., Ryan, D., et al. (2003). The case for knowledge translation: Shortening the journey from evidence to effect. British Medical Journal, 327(7405), 33—35.
  • Demakis, J. G., McQueen, L., Kizer, K. W., & Feussner, J. R. (2000). Quality enhancement research initiative (QUERI): A collaboration between research and clinical practice. Medical Care, 38(6 Supplement 1), I17-25.
  • Dobbins M., Ciliska, D., Cockerill, R., Barnsley, J., & Di, C. A. (2002). A framework for the dissemination and utilization of research for health-care policy and practice. Online Journal of Knowledge Synthesis for Nursing, 9(7).
  • Glasgow, R. E., Lichtenstein, E., & Marcus, A. C. (2003). Why don't we see more translation of health promotion research to practice? Rethinking the efficacy-to-effectiveness transition. American Journal of Public Health, 93(8), 1261-1267.
  • Grol, R. (2000). Twenty years of implementation research. Family Practice, 17, S32-S35.
  • Grol, R., & Grimshaw, J. (2003). From best evidence to best practice: Effective implementation of change in patients' care. Lancet, 362(9391), 1225—1230.
  • Jacobson, N., Butterill, D., & Goering, P. (2003). Development of a framework for knowledge translation: Understanding user context. Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, 8(2), 94—99.
  • Landry, R., Lamari, M., & Amara, N. (2003). The extent and determinants of the utilization of university research in government agencies. Public Administration Review, 63(2), 192—205.
  • Lavis, J. N., Robertson, D., Woodside, J. M., Mcleod, C. B., & Abelson, J. (2003). How can research organizations more effectively transfer research knowledge to decision makers? Milbank Quarterly, 81(2), 221—248.
  • Lavis, J. N., Ross, S. E., Hurley, J. E., Hohenadel, J. M., Stoddart, G. L., Woodward, C. A., et al. (2002). Examining the role of health services research in public policymaking. Milbank Quarterly, 80(1), 125—154.
  • Ohlsson, A. (2002). Knowledge translation and evidence-based perinatal/neonatal health care. Neonatal Network, 21(5), 69—74.
  • Tingus, S. J., Berland, B. J., Myklebust, J., Sherwood, A. (2004, August). NIDRR long-range planning update for KDU. Paper presented at the Knowledge Dissemination and Utilization Projects Meeting: Translating Disability Research into Practice, Pentagon City, VA.
  • CIHR. (2004). Knowledge translation strategy 2004—2009: Innovation in action. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
  • Cornelissen, E., Mitton, C. and Sheps, S. (2011), Knowledge translation in the discourse of professional practice. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare, 9: 184–188.
  • Grimshaw JM, Santesso N, Cumpston M, Mayhew A, McGowan J. Knowledge for knowledge translation: the role of the Cochrane Collaboration. J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2006 Winter;26(1):55-62.
  • Handzic M, Lagumdzika A, Celjo A. Auditing knowledge management practices: model and application. Knowledge Management Research and Practice 2008(6):90-99
  • Schaffert S. IkeWiki: a SemanticWiki for Collaborative Knowledge Management
  • Wenger E. Communities of practice: learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Wilson TD. The nonsense of 'knowledge management'. Information Research. Oct 2002;8(1)
  • Wyatt J. Knowledge management and innovation in medicine: how to go beyond practice guidelines ? Advances in Clinical Knowledge Management 5 22/04/2002
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