Towards a sociology of knowledge translation : the importance of being dis-interested in knowledge translation

Kitto, Simon C, Sargeant, Joan, Reeves, Scott and Silver, Ivan (2012) Towards a sociology of knowledge translation : the importance of being dis-interested in knowledge translation. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 17(2), pp. 289-299. ISSN (print) 1382-4996


Over the last 15 years there has been an increasingly energetic search for theories and definitions in the burgeoning area of knowledge translation (KT) in the health care context. The focus has been on the design and evaluation of KT activities with little attention to developing a considered KT theoretical/methodological approach that takes a more distanced critical inquiry to the studying of KT interventions. As such, what has been overlooked in the health professions KT literature to date is a suitably complex conceptualisation of translation that encompasses the multiplicity of KT interventions, the dynamic environments in which they are occurring, and the production of new knowledge which arises from their interactions. Attending to these epistemological issues; i.e. issues of the type of knowledge and how it is produced, is crucial to developing a relational understanding of the production and emergence of context-specific clinical knowledge and practice in KT processes. Such an approach is compared to the traditional KT evaluations by KT practitioners themselves of the compliance or non-compliance of individual and organisational behaviour change. A Sociology of KT (SKT) is proposed to complement the applied and evaluative research practice of implementing planned action KT activities. The purpose of a SKT basic research agenda is to understand both the context-specific nature of KT interventions and the epistemological premises of the activities of KT implementers themselves, in order to advance the science of KT and inform, complement and add to the success of applied and evaluative KT research in the future.

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