Dementia education programs are being developed for health professionals, but with limited guidance about “what works” in design and content to promote best practice in dementia care. Knowledge translation (KT) is a conceptual framework for putting evidence to work in health care. This narrative literature review examined the question: What does the field KT offer, conceptually and practically, for education of health professionals in dementia care? It seeks to identify the types of strategies currently used within education to facilitate effective KT for the wide range of health professionals who may be involved in the care of people with dementia, plus explore enablers and barriers to KT in this context.
From 76 articles identified in academic databases and manual bibliographic searching, 22 met review criteria.
The literature synthesis indicated four hallmarks of successful KT-oriented dementia education for health professionals: (1) multimodal delivery, (2) tailored approaches, (3) relationship building, and (4) organizational support for change in the work setting. Participatory action frameworks were also favored, based on interactive knowledge exchange (eg, blended learning) rather than passive unidirectional approaches alone (eg, lectures).
The following six principles are proposed for educating health professionals in dementia care: (1) Match the education strategy to the KT goal and learner preferences; (2) Use integrated multimodal learning strategies and provide opportunities for multiple learning exposures plus feedback; (3) Build relationships to bridge the research–practice gap; (4) Use a simple compelling message with formats and technologies relevant to the audience; (5) Provide incentives to achieve KT goals; and (6) Plan to change the workplace, not just the individual health professional.