Background Knowledge mobilisation (KMb) can be defined as the movement of available knowledge (research) into active use. In the health sciences, there is a need to identify and describe knowledge mobilisation activities from a range of different ‘producers’ and ‘users’ of knowledge. A recent review of reviews of knowledge mobilisation highlighted the need for the evaluation of KMb activities and approaches, as well as mapping knowledge mobilisation archetypes.
This case study details a knowledge mobilisation activity between a UK and US university (knowledge producers), and a US state public health department (knowledge users). There were 3 objectives: First, exchange knowledge of the persistent challenges and best practices identified by UK and US settings for conducting research embedded in public health practice. Second, identify the methods that worked best and in what context, for moving knowledge into active use in public health practice. Third, map knowledge mobilisation activities. The exchange took place over 1 week in 2016.
Methods Qualitative case study. We used participant observation, document analysis and interview to record knowledge mobilisation activities. We used thematic analysis (using the OSOP technique) to draw out themes.
Results We discussed the challenges and opportunities that the UK and US institutions face in achieving high-quality ‘real-world’ public health research that has been or could be used in practice. Thematic findings centred on:
Exemplars of practice: Knowledge mobilisation that worked well was usually dependent on secure, long-standing relationships between key individuals (but not necessarily the most powerful individuals).
Mobilisation methods: A range of methods were reported to move knowledge into active use, from social and relational to traditional linear processes of knowledge production and (assumed) implementation in practice.
Mobilisation activities: archetypes identified in a knowledge mobilisation review of reviews were compared to current practice from this exchange. Archetypes of knowledge mobilisation in practice were ‘evidence advocacy’ and ‘knowledge production’ and those ‘brokering research’ and ‘fostering networks’.
Details of each theme will be presented.
Conclusion This knowledge mobilisation exchange helped to identify the most useful knowledge mobilisation activities occurring in these UK and US institutions. The exchange was itself an example of knowledge mobilisation. It has provided a benchmark for identifying what types of knowledge mobilisation activities are best suited, and in what context, for moving knowledge into active use in each country. A study limitation is the case study method, as the findings cannot be widely generalised without external replication.
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