Building capacity for knowledge translation in occupational therapy: learning through participatory action research

Sally Bennett*, Mary Whitehead, Sally Eames, Jennifer Fleming, Shanling Low, Elizabeth Caldwell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)
116 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: There has been widespread acknowledgement of the need to build capacity in knowledge translation however much of the existing work focuses on building capacity amongst researchers rather than with clinicians directly. This paper's aim is to describe a research project for developing a knowledge translation capacity building program for occupational therapy clinicians.

METHODS: Participatory action research methods were used to both develop and evaluate the knowledge translation capacity-building program. Participants were occupational therapists from a large metropolitan hospital in Australia. Researchers and clinicians worked together to use the action cycle of the Knowledge to Action Framework to increase use of knowledge translation itself within the department in general, within their clinical teams, and to facilitate knowledge translation becoming part of the department's culture. Barriers and enablers to using knowledge translation were identified through a survey based on the Theoretical Domains Framework and through focus groups. Multiple interventions were used to develop a knowledge translation capacity-building program.

RESULTS: Fifty-two occupational therapists participated initially, but only 20 across the first 18 months of the project. Barriers and enablers were identified across all domains of the Theoretical Domains Framework. Interventions selected to address these barriers or facilitate enablers were categorised into ten different categories: educational outreach; teams working on clinical knowledge translation case studies; identifying time blocks for knowledge translation; mentoring; leadership strategies; communication strategies; documentation and resources to support knowledge translation; funding a knowledge translation champion one day per week; setting goals for knowledge translation; and knowledge translation reporting strategies. Use of these strategies was, and continues to be monitored. Participants continue to be actively involved in learning and shaping the knowledge translation program across the department and within their specific clinical areas.

CONCLUSION: To build capacity for knowledge translation, it is important to involve clinicians. The action cycle of the Knowledge to Action framework is a useful guide to introduce the knowledge translation process to clinicians. It may be used to engage the department as a whole, and facilitate the learning and application of knowledge translation within specific clinical areas. Research evaluating this knowledge translation program is being conducted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number257
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


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