Knowledge Translation


What is Knowledge Translation?

Knowledge Translation (KT) is the process of moving evidence into policy and practice in order to “bridge the gap” between what we know and what we do. There are consistent findings that there is a failure to effectively translate research into practice and policy (7).

Knowledge Translation is defined by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) as a “dynamic and iterative process that includes synthesis, dissemination, exchange, and ethically-sound application of knowledge” in decision-making (1). It goes beyond passive communication, and focuses on ensuring knowledge is packaged and delivered in a way that ensures it is actively taken up and effectively used in practice (2).


Why is Knowledge Translation important?

It can take an estimated 17 years for research findings to be put into practice. KT helps to close this gap by engaging the people who will use the research – such as patients, decision-makers, policy-makers and healthcare providers – and using various strategies to make research findings accessible and easier to understand for these different audiences by sharing information in plain language and through appropriate channels. 



When do you do Knowledge Translation?

CIHR defines two main types of KT: end-of-grant KT and integrated KT.

End-of-grant KT refers to communication strategies used to share research findings – in other words, it is the plan on how you will share the research knowledge produced with the knowledge users such as patients, decision-makers, and other stakeholder groups (1).

Integrated KT describes a process by which knowledge users and knowledge producers (researchers) work closely together throughout the research process. Knowledge users can be engaged in determining research questions and methods, and in interpreting, analyzing and sharing the results. This approach aims to ensure that research findings are useful for knowledge users and are more likely to be taken up in policy and practice (1,6)



How do you do Knowledge Translation?

KT can be further categorized as KT practice and KT science. KT practice is what has been described above: moving evidence into practice and policy (7). The science of KT, also known as implementation science, is the study of the methods used to promote knowledge uptake (8).

When thinking about translating research findings, you should ask yourself:

  1. What is the knowledge I want to share?
  2. Who is the target audience?
  3. Who will deliver the knowledge?
  4. How should the knowledge be shared?
  5. What effect or impact do I expect this knowledge to have? (7)

KT strategies can include general communications (publications, media releases, social media campaigns), as well as activities targeted at specific user groups, such as briefings to stakeholders, education sessions with patients, or the use of knowledge brokers (9,10)



How does the MSSU support Knowledge Translation?

Knowledge Translation is a core compotent of our work, and we:




  1. Canadian Institutes of Health Research. More about knowledge translation at CIHR. 2014. Accessed November 14, 2014.

  2. Straus SE, Tetroe J, Graham I. Defining knowledge translation. CMAJ 2009 Aug 4;181(3-4):165-168.

  3. Graham ID, Logan J, Harrison MB, Straus SE, Tetroe J, Caswell W, et al. Lost in knowledge translation: time for a map? J Contin Educ Health Prof 2006 Winter;26(1):13-24.

  4. Straus SE, Tetroe J, Graham ID. Knowledge translation: What it is and what it isn't. In: Straus SE, Tetroe J, Graham ID, editors. Knowledge Translation in Health Care: Moving from Evidence to Practice. 2nd ed. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.; 2013. p. 3-13.

  5. KT Clearinghouse. KT Knowledge Base: The Knowledge-to-Action Cycle. Available at: Accessed 01/09, 2014.

  6. Bowen S, Graham ID. Integrated knowledge translation. In: Straus SE, Tetroe JM, Graham ID, editors. Knowledge Translation in Health Care: Moving from Evidence to Practice. 2nd ed. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.; 2013. p. 14-23.

  7. Grimshaw JM, Eccles MP, Lavis JN, Hill SJ, Squires JE. Knowledge translation of research findings. Implement Sci 2012 May 31;7:50-5908-7-50.

  8. Curran JA, Grimshaw JM, Hayden JA, Campbell B. Knowledge translation research: the science of moving research into policy and practice. J Contin Educ Health Prof 2011 Summer;31(3):174-180.

  9. Urquhart R, Porter GA, Grunfeld E. Reflections on knowledge brokering within a multidisciplinary research team. J Contin Educ Health Prof 2011 Fall;31(4):283-290.

  10. LaRocca R, Yost J, Dobbins M, Ciliska D, Butt M. The effectiveness of knowledge translation strategies used in public health: a systematic review. BMC Public Health 2012 Sep 7;12:751-2458-12-751.