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Estabrooks Carole A. RN PhD; Thompson, David S. BScN; Lovely, Jacque J.E. BA, BScN; Hofmeyer, Anne RN, PhD
Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions: Winter 2006
doi: 10.1002/chp.48
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AbstractDespite calls over several decades for theory development, there remains no overarching knowledge-translation theory. However, a range of models and theoretical perspectives focused on narrower and related areas have been available for some time. We provide an overview of selected perspectives that we believe are particularly useful for developing testable and useful knowledge-translation interventions. In addition, we discuss adjuvant theories necessary to complement these perspectives. We draw from organizational innovation, health, and social sciences literature to illustrate the similarities and differences of various theoretical perspectives related to the knowledge-translation field.A variety of theoretical perspectives useful to knowledge translation exist. They are often spread across disciplinary boundaries, making them difficult to locate and use. Poor definitional clarity, discipline-specific terminology, and implicit assumptions often hinder the use of complementary perspectives.Health care environments are complex, and assessing the setting prior to selecting a theory should be the first step in knowledge-translation initiatives. Finding a fit between setting (context) and theory is important for knowledge-translation initiatives to succeed. Because one theory will not fit all contexts, it is helpful to understand and use several different theories. Although there are often barriers associated with combining theories from different disciplines, such obstacles can be overcome, and to do so will increase the likelihood that knowledge-translation initiatives will succeed.

Despite calls over several decades for theory development, there remains no overarching knowledge-translation theory. However, a range of models and theoretical perspectives focused on narrower and related areas have been available for some time. We provide an overview of selected perspectives that we believe are particularly useful for developing testable and useful knowledge-translation interventions. In addition, we discuss adjuvant theories necessary to complement these perspectives. We draw from organizational innovation, health, and social sciences literature to illustrate the similarities and differences of various theoretical perspectives related to the knowledge-translation field.

A variety of theoretical perspectives useful to knowledge translation exist. They are often spread across disciplinary boundaries, making them difficult to locate and use. Poor definitional clarity, discipline-specific terminology, and implicit assumptions often hinder the use of complementary perspectives.

Health care environments are complex, and assessing the setting prior to selecting a theory should be the first step in knowledge-translation initiatives. Finding a fit between setting (context) and theory is important for knowledge-translation initiatives to succeed. Because one theory will not fit all contexts, it is helpful to understand and use several different theories. Although there are often barriers associated with combining theories from different disciplines, such obstacles can be overcome, and to do so will increase the likelihood that knowledge-translation initiatives will succeed.

Email: carole.estabrooks@ualberta.ca

Faculty of Nursing, 3rd Floor Clinical Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2G3

Grant sponsor: Canadian Institutes of Health Research Canada Research Chair; Grant sponsor: Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF); Grant sponsor: Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR); Grant sponsor: Centre for Knowledge Transfer.

Copyright © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., A Wiley Company

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