The Use of Health Knowledge by Not-for-profit Organizations: Taking a Look at Their Policy-influencing Practices
Health professionals act on non-biomedical health determinants in various ways (Frankish et al., 2007). One course of action is working with not-for-profit organizations (NFP) to influence public policy. These partnerships are established mainly because the NFPs and the health professionals in question share common concerns in terms of determinants of health. Moreover, they have complementary resources (expertise, community networks, etc.) that can be put to use on both sides. For example, the Direction de la santé publique (DSP) of Montréal- Centre entered into a partnership with the Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal in the mid-2000s in order to reconcile the claims of resident groups requesting traffic-calming measures in their immediate surroundings with the reservations of several City of Montréal traffic engineers in this regard. The partnership was supposed to achieve its goals by way of knowledge exchange—by enabling the DSP to share the knowledge it had gained regarding the links between vehicular traffic and Montréalers’ state of health and by making explicit the citizens’ traffic-calming claims. It was also supposed to enable engineers to become familiar with the NFP’s technical knowledge regarding trafficcalming measures in the hopes that they would incorporate these into their practices.
The purpose of the analysis proposed here is to facilitate reflection by health professionals on certain issues affecting these current or future knowledge exchange activities with NFPs. The first section is dedicated to the methodology and conceptual framework organizing the work. The next section consists of the analysis of the use of knowledge by NFPs. The last section presents a discussion of the ins and outs of the exchange of knowledge between NFPs and health care professionals with a view to promoting healthy public policy.