Do knowledge translation (KT) plans help to structure KT practices?
BACKGROUND: A knowledge translation (KT) planning template is a roadmap laying out the core elements to be considered when structuring the implementation of KT activities by researchers and practitioners. Since 2010, the Institut national de sante publique du Quebec (INSPQ; Quebec Public Health Institute) has provided tools and guidance to in-house project teams to help them develop KT plans. This study sought to identify the dimensions included in those plans and which ones were integrated and how. The results will be of interest to funding agencies and scientific organizations that provide frameworks for KT planning. METHODS: The operationalization of KT planning dimensions was assessed in a mixed methods case study of 14 projects developed at the INSPQ between 2010 and 2013. All plans were assessed (rated) using an analytical tool developed for this study and data from interviews with the planning coordinators. The analytical tool and interview guide were based on eight core KT dimensions identified in the literature. RESULTS: Analysis of the plans and interviews revealed that the dimensions best integrated into the KT plans were 'analysis of the context (barriers and facilitators) and of users' needs', 'knowledge to be translated', 'KT partners', 'KT strategies' and, to a lesser extent, 'overall KT approach'. The least well integrated dimensions were 'knowledge about knowledge users', 'KT process evaluation' and 'resources'. CONCLUSIONS: While the planning coordinators asserted that a plan did not need to include all the dimensions to ensure its quality and success, nevertheless the dimensions that received less attention might have been better incorporated if they had been supported with more instruments related to those dimensions and sustained methodological guidance. Overall, KT planning templates appear to be an appreciated mechanism for supporting KT reflexive practices. Based on this study and our experience, we recommend using KT plans cautiously when assessing project efficacy and funding.
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