Evaluation as a Mechanism for Integrated Knowledge Translation
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In the emerging field of knowledge translation (KT) evaluation is typically assigned the role of quality control, constructing judgments about the merit and worth of knowledge translation activities. To date however, there has been little, if any, record of attempts to use evaluation to facilitate knowledge translation. The purpose of this research was to examine the potential role of evaluation as a mechanism for integrated knowledge translation (IKT). This study was completed in two phases and employed a prospective multiple methods case study design. Phase one explored the context of primary care, the setting in which phase two was conducted. Phase two involved the implementation of an evaluation designed to facilitate knowledge translation; an evaluation of a Memory Clinic within a primary care setting in Ontario, Canada served as the case. The evaluation was participatory and used intentional strategies to support knowledge translation. A framework from the evaluation literature, Pathways of Influence, was used to examine the influence of the evaluation at the level of the individual, interpersonal and collective. This research provides the first known description of a KT-informed evaluation. At the level of the individual, a KT-informed evaluation influenced the individuals’ knowledge about the program, attitudes towards practice-based knowledge and clinical practices and processes. At the team/interpersonal level the evaluation was seen to influence the team’s social norms, supporting the team in thinking beyond their disciplinary boundaries and to develop a shared vision and common language. The evaluation did not have influence at the level of the broader organization, however had diffuse impact on two external organizations. Results of this study suggest that adding knowledge translation to the repertoire of evaluation purposes is a natural extension of the field. Integrated knowledge translation is designed to engage individuals in the synthesis, exchange and ethically sound application of knowledge and the results of this study demonstrate that a collaborative evaluation approach promotes this interest in a potentially powerful way.