Knowledge Translation in HealthWestern Health Sciences

Current Projects

Kothari Projects

What is the Public Health Risk Communication Response to COVID-19 in the Context of Social Media?

Communication to the public during health-related emergencies needs to be multi-faceted, evidence-informed, timely and accurately targeted to sustain public confidence while minimizing panic and stigma. With more than 94% of Canadian adults using social media, social media is a powerful tool for communication to the public by public health (PH) agencies, especially during emergencies. During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, researchers identified the internet as the most frequently used source of information by the public. In Dec. 2019, Canadian performance indicators for PH emergency preparedness were developed, with social media explicitly named as a communication platform for: 1) PH messaging, 2) monitoring misinformation, and 3) asking questions and raising concerns by the public. Our proposed study builds on this need for PH to plan for effective and efficient use of social media.

A key aspect of social media is the ability for PH to engage the public in two-way communication that may enhance public trust and positive feelings towards institutions and mitigate the spread of misinformation. However, there is evidence that PH agencies are not using social media to its full interactive potential. Our extensive investigation into Canadian PH’s use of social media found that PH messaging failed to include two-way communication between PH authorities and the public, potentially missing out on the proposed benefits listed above. To date, no pan-Canadian peer-reviewed literature exists on PH agencies’ response to a rapidly, progressive infectious disease inclusive of social media communication to engage with the public. The intention of the proposed study is to provide evidence-informed guidelines for social media communication to PH at the provincial and national levels for future outbreaks.

Alignment with objectives and research areas of the call:

A robust PH social media communication system can support the delivery of clear and consistent messaging and effective engagement with the public to contain an outbreak. The proposed study addresses two relevant research areas: by providing evidence on the public health response to COVID-19, we will generate recommendations to support effective communication and combat misinformation, stigma and fear to improve public awareness, knowledge, and trust during the outbreak response. Further, the proposed study will allow us to provide specific social media guidance at the provincial and national levels for future outbreaks.

The specific objectives of our project are to:

  • Identify the social media level of engagement with the public by provincial PH agencies and PH leaders before and during active periods of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Identify the social media level of engagement with the public by the national PH agency and PH leaders before and during active periods of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Determine the strengths and weaknesses of provincial and national social media engagement content during COVID-19
  • Characterize the public’s response to PH agencies and PH leaders on social media before and during active periods of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Collaboratively develop a Canadian social media emergency response set of guideline recommendations for PH and other health system organizations.

Outcomes and Impact: The anticipated outcomes of this research include: greater understanding of the challenges and strengths with the current Canadian PH social media approach to communicating about COVID-19, and future epidemics; to collaboratively develop with PH stakeholders a Canadian social media emergency response recommendations; contribute to the science of both PH systems and social media research by disseminating findings, and; develop recommendations about how to enhance social media engagement with the public during an emergency response in the health care system in Canada, and globally.

Moving Knowledge into Action for More Effective Practice, Programs, and Policy: A Research Program Focusing on Integrated Knowledge Translation

Program Leader (PI): ID Graham

Program Research Experts (Co-I): G. Alvarez, D. Banner-Lukaris, M. Brouwers, I. Botting, J. Brehaut, S. Dunn, A. Gagliardi, H. Gainforth, W. Gifford, C Godfrey, J. Grimshaw, K. Harlos, T. Horsley, M. Kastner, A. Kothari [Deputy Director], S. Kreindler, J. Lavis, F. Legare, M. Macleod, J. Mitchell, D. Moher, T. Montini, S. Pahkale J. Rycroft-Malone, J. Salsberg, J. Squires, K. Sibley, D. Stacey, S. Straus, M. E. Yeung, Watson

Program Trainee Research Experts (Co-I):F. Bell, K. Mrklas, T. Nguyen, K. Salter, B. Wood

Program Knowledge User Experts (Co-I): E. Beaupre, K. Connell, J. Edwards, S. Fenton, Q. Hasanaj (withdrawn), B. Holmes, R. Ives, I. Jones, K. Lee, M. McEvoy, A. Mihalchuk, W. Nicklin, P. Odnokon, S. Permack, S. Rogalski, V. Roman, H. Sabourin, K. Salter, Y. Savoie, G. Scarrow, R. Sheldon, A. Sprague, A. Tang, C. Ulrich, P. Valentine, C. Weise, G. Wells, B. Wright

Funding: $3,318,872, CIHR Foundation Grant scheme- Inaugural competition – FDN #143237

Timeline: 2015-2022

Summary: Evidence-practice gaps resulting from knowledge translation (KT) failures result in patients failing to benefit optimally from advances in healthcare and inefficient use of scarce healthcare resources. KT is about ensuring that decision-makers at all levels of the health system are aware of and can access and use research evidence to inform health care decision-making. Improved KT is essential if we are to reap the benefits of health research to improve the health and quality of life of Canadians, and the effectiveness of health services and to strengthen the Canadian health care system. KT research is the scientific study of the determinants, processes and outcomes of KT. This program focuses on ‘evaluation of dissemination and implementation (DI) strategies targeting health professionals and health systems’, a core element of KT research. The research program will use innovative approaches to enhance the informativeness of primary evaluations and systematic reviews of DI strategies addressing conceptual and methodological weaknesses in current KT research. It will develop general principles to inform healthcare systems about how to increase the likelihood that their DI strategies are effective and practical tools to support design and delivery of DI strategies.


Mobilizing Narratives for Policy and Social Change

Co-PIs: Le Ber Janzen M., Berman H

Co-Is: Hand, C., Hubert, P., Justrabo, J., Kothari, A., Oudshoorn, A., Pitre, L., Rudman, D., Steinburg, N., Wylie, L.

Funding: SSHRC - $200,000

Timeline: 2017-2020

Summary: Over the past two decades, a growing number of researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds as well as nonprofit organizations have embraced various narrative methodologies, such as storytelling and photovoice, as a way to investigate and illuminate social inequities. With greater receptivity on the part of funders, including the Tri-Council granting agencies, these approaches have proven effective in fostering insight and self-awareness of the individual at the center of the narrative and in collectivizing the experiences of individuals in similar circumstances. While it is generally assumed by those who engage in narrative research that enhanced public understanding about phenomena of interest would contribute to policy and social change, the evidence for this type of change is unclear. This project aims to systematically investigate how narrative forms of knowledge co-creation can inform and lead to such policy and social change.

Project objectives include an investigation of the process, coordination and challenges of narrative knowledge co-creation, as well as articulation of the most effective strategies. At its core, this project seeks to understand current and potential impacts of narrative methodologies, and create new, meaningful ways to evaluate these impacts, with particular attention to system-level change. We will develop a conceptual model that illustrates, explains, provides insight into the policy impacts of narrative-based research and articulates the most effective strategies, barriers, facilitators, and challenges to advocacy for change. The resulting insights hold the potential for application to other narrative research initiatives at regional, national or international level.


How do Advisory Councils Work to Mobilize Knowledge

Principal Investigator: Kothari, A.

Co-Investigator: I. Graham; Lewis, K

Funding: I. Graham's Foundation Grant, $ 41,095

Timeline: 2018/7-2020/6

Summary: The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada is transforming their approach to planning and priority setting. The goal is to generate impact from bench to bedside, bedside to bench and beyond, to improve the health of individual Canadians and the population as a whole. They have identified six Mission Critical Areas (MCAs) that they believe are the areas where they can best use their unique competencies, resources, collaborations and partnerships to have the most impact. By so doing, they will be better able to inform Canadians about how they are minimizing the effects of heart disease and stroke, creating a better quality of life for all, and, by putting a face on research, enhancing fundraising opportunities. The six MCAs include: Stroke, Heart Failure, Heart Rhythm, Vascular Cognitive Impairment, Coronary Artery and Vascular Disease, and Structural Heart Disease.

The six Councils are comprised of 10-12 members of community members and individuals with lived experience and leading researchers from a range of backgrounds. Each Council will be co-chaired by a researcher and a community member. Members will reflect a wide array of skills, experience, connections and knowledge within the ambit of their respective MCA. Each Council will be supported by a central team at the HSF consisting of the Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange, the Director of Heart Health, the Director of Stroke, a project manager and a logistics coordinator. These Councils will provide advice about how HSF can best advance the MCAs. The aim of this research is to evaluate the value of the Councils to HSF, researcher and Council members. Specifically, the research questions focus on understanding the process of managing and participating on the Councils, and the related outcomes emerging from this mechanism of input.


Prioritizing Core Competencies for Integrated Knowledge Translation

Principal Investigator: Yeung, E

Co-Investigator: Graham, I; Kothari A; Salbach, N;

Funding: I. Graham’s Foundation Grant, $32,273

Summary: Over the last few decades, considerable progress has been made to advance the field of knowledge translation to address the knowledge-to-action gap. Among these advances is the increasing recognition that failures in the uptake of evidence into policy and practice are not only attributed to underutilization of research evidence, but may also stem from a misalignment between the research conducted and the issues faced by knowledge users. For example, some clinicians do not value the scholar role, and view the scientific literature as inaccessible and limited in applicability to everyday clients. Integrated knowledge translation (iKT) has shown promise in addressing the uptake of evidence into policy and practice by reconceptualizing knowledge users’ roles in the co-production of knowledge throughout the research process. As such, work is underway to gain a more robust understanding of the mechanisms and impacts of iKT and to translate this understanding into resources and capacity-building efforts to improve the practice of iKT among researchers and knowledge users. While preliminary work has begun to articulate the conditions under which iKT can be optimized, there remains a lack of clarity regarding the individual competencies that would facilitate the success of iKT. The primary aim of this proposed study is to determine the core competencies that are of highest priority for integrated knowledge translation in order to develop educational offerings to reflect these priorities.

The objectives of this project are:

    1. To identify the core integrated knowledge translation competencies required for knowledge producers and knowledge users in the health sector to collaborate throughout the research lifecycle.
    2. To develop and evaluate the feasibility of training modules designed to enhance iKT competencies among researchers and knowledge users in the health sector

Sibbald Projects

Implementation and Spread of a Local Integrated Lung Health Team

Team: Sibbald, S. (PI), Paciocco, S.

Timeline: 2019-2020

Summary: Managing chronic health conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) require complex approaches from multiple healthcare providers. Integrated care across healthcare professionals is the best way to make this happen. The purpose of this research is to assess the implementation of a new COPD management program at a family health team Southwestern Ontario and to determine the mediating factors that either facilitated or inhibited successful implementation.

The objectives of this project are:

  1. Determine factors that influence the spread of an integrated team-based model of care
  2. Examine the processes, mechanisms, and outcomes associated with a peer-to-peer approach to scaling a team-based model of care.
  3. Incorporate patient engagement to support spread of an integrated team-based model of care

This study can help inform the spread and implementation of other similar models of care. Future studies of the same type for purposes of comparison will be completed at the other implementation sites. When these findings are compared to results from other implementation sites, we may have a better understanding of implementation of these types of programs.