Did you know it takes an average of 17 years to move research evidence into practice? And sometimes, it doesn’t even make it into practice. One of the major findings from clinical and health services research is the failure to translate research into practice and policy. Further, the best evidence may not be contextually relevant to those who will apply it. These gaps between research and practice have highlighted the need for another process being part of research activities, knowledge translation (KT).
KT refers to a set of activities and processes that are aimed at closing the gap between what is known from research evidence and what is applied in practice and policy. There are 2 approaches to KT: end-of-grant KT and integrated KT (iKT). In iKT, individuals or organizations that will be applying the study results in their work are engaged in the entire research process as knowledge users and equal partners with the researchers. The iKT approach was used in the ComPARe study.
Members of the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – a key knowledge user for the findings from the ComPARe study’s cancer prevention research – were part of the ComPARe study team. The study team was organized into 5 topic-specific teams or “nodes.” The KT node led the study’s knowledge translation, as shown in the figure below. In addition to CCS, knowledge users from other stakeholder organizations were also engaged in an advisory capacity.
Having knowledge users directly involved from the beginning of the study helped shape the research questions. The KT node played a key role in interpreting the study findings, framing the messaging, developing strategies to share the findings and implementing knowledge translation activities. This approach allowed our study team to capitalize on both the researchers’ and knowledge users’ expertise, leading to findings that are contextually relevant and applicable.
In the year since the release of the ComPARe study, the results have been widely used at CCS and integrated into its cancer prevention work. For example, the results were included in the CCS federal election platform that was released in June 2019. The study findings were also used in an online cancer prevention tool called It’s My Life!. This interactive tool allows Canadians to learn about different factors that affect their cancer risk and changes they can make to reduce their risk.
The results of the ComPARe study have also been used by other organizations and researchers in the cancer control community. The study findings support the top priority in the 2019–2029 Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, which is to decrease the risk of getting cancer. And they’re currently being integrated into the OncoSim projection modelling at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.
If you’re using the study findings in your work, our team would love to hear from you! Please fill out our knowledge user survey.
Apiramy Jeyapalan, MPH
Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society
ComPARe Study Knowledge Translation Team