Knowledge translation (KT) aims to close the research-practice gap in order to realize andmaximize the benefits of research within the practice setting. Previous studies haveinvestigated KT strategies in nursing and medicine; however, the present study is the firstsystematic review of the effectiveness of a variety of KT interventions in five allied healthdisciplines: dietetics, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physiotherapy, and speech-languagepathology.
A health research librarian developed and implemented search strategies in eight electronicdatabases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, ERIC, PASCAL, EMBASE, IPA, Scopus, CENTRAL)using language (English) and date restrictions (1985 to March 2010). Other relevant sourceswere manually searched. Two reviewers independently screened the titles and abstracts,reviewed full-text articles, performed data extraction, and performed quality assessment.Within each profession, evidence tables were created, grouping and analyzing data byresearch design, KT strategy, targeted behaviour, and primary outcome. The publisheddescriptions of the KT interventions were compared to the Workgroup for InterventionDevelopment and Evaluation Research (WIDER) Recommendations to Improve theReporting of the Content of Behaviour Change Interventions.
A total of 2,638 articles were located and the titles and abstracts were screened. Of those,1,172 full-text articles were reviewed and subsequently 32 studies were included in thesystematic review. A variety of single (n = 15) and multiple (n = 17) KT interventions wereidentified, with educational meetings being the predominant KT strategy (n = 11). Themajority of primary outcomes were identified as professional/process outcomes (n = 25);however, patient outcomes (n = 4), economic outcomes (n = 2), and multiple primaryoutcomes (n = 1) were also represented. Generally, the studies were of low methodologicalquality. Outcome reporting bias was common and precluded clear determination ofintervention effectiveness. In the majority of studies, the interventions demonstrated mixedeffects on primary outcomes, and only four studies demonstrated statistically significant,positive effects on primary outcomes. None of the studies satisfied the four WIDERRecommendations.
Across five allied health professions, equivocal results, low methodological quality, andoutcome reporting bias limited our ability to recommend one KT strategy over another.Further research employing the WIDER Recommendations is needed to inform thedevelopment and implementation of effective KT interventions in allied health.