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Networking and Knowledge Exchange to Promote the Formation of Transdisciplinary Coalitions and Levels of Agreement Among Transdisciplinary Peer Reviewers

Lobb, Rebecca ScD, MPH; Petermann, Lisa PhD; Manafo, Elizabeth MHSc; Keen, Deb MPA; Kerner, Jon PhD

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: January/February 2013 - Volume 19 - Issue 1 - p E9–E20
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e31823991c2
Original Articles

Context: Funding for transdisciplinary chronic disease prevention research has increased over the past decade. However, few studies have evaluated whether networking and knowledge exchange activities promote the creation of transdisciplinary teams to successfully respond to requests for proposals (RFPs). Such evaluations are critical to understanding how to accelerate the integration of research with practice and policy to improve population health.

Objective: To examine (1) the extent of participation in pre-RFP activities among funded and nonfunded transdisciplinary coalitions that responded to a RFP for cancer and chronic disease prevention initiatives and (2) levels of agreement in proposal ratings among research, practice, and policy peer reviewers.

Design/Setting: Descriptive report of a Canadian funding initiative to increase the integration of evidence with action.

Participants: Four hundred forty-nine representatives in 41 research, practice, and policy coalitions who responded to a RFP and whose proposals were peer reviewed by a transdisciplinary adjudication panel.

Intervention: The funder hosted 6 national meetings and issued a letter of intent (LOI) to foster research, practice, and policy collaborations before issuing a RFP.

Results: All provinces and territories in Canada were represented by the coalitions. Funded coalitions were 2.5 times more likely than nonfunded coalitions to submit a LOI. A greater proportion of funded coalitions were exposed to the pre-RFP activities (100%) compared with coalitions that were not funded (68%). Overall research, practice, and policy peer reviewer agreement was low (intraclass correlation 0.12).

Conclusions: There is widespread interest in transdisciplinary collaborations to improve cancer and chronic disease prevention. Engagement in networking and knowledge exchange activities, and feedback from LOIs prior to submission of a final application, may contribute to stronger proposals and subsequent funding success. Future evaluations should examine best practices for transdisciplinary peer review to facilitate funding of proposals that on balance have both scientific rigor and are relevant to the real world.

This study examines (1) the extent of participation in pre–request for proposal activities among funded and nonfunded transdisciplinary coalitions that responded to a request for proposal for cancer and chronic disease prevention initiatives and (2) levels of agreement in proposal ratings among research, practice, and policy peer reviewers.

Centre for Research on Inner City Health, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario (Dr Lobb); Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Surgery and Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri (Dr Lobb); Primary Prevention Program, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Toronto, Ontario (Drs Petermann and Kerner, and Mss Manafo and Keen); Mental Health Commission of Canada, Calgary, Alberta (Dr Petermann); and School of Nutrition, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario (Ms Manafo).

Correspondence: Rebecca Lobb, ScD, MPH, Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Surgery and Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S Euclid Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110 (lobbr@wudosis.wustl.edu).

Production of this research article has been made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada, through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. Dr Lobb thanks the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for their support.

The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.